Palm Beach County schools to close for 2 weeks because of coronavirus

Students will only miss 4 days because of election, spring break
Posted at 2:15 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 20:24:19-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County public school students are getting an extended spring break because of the coronavirus.

Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy announced Friday that all schools will be closed next week in addition to the following week, when schools were already scheduled to be closed for spring break.

The decision to close schools comes a day after the Florida Department of Health confirmed the first two cases of coronavirus in Palm Beach County. Health officials said both cases involved two men in their 70s who had traveled out of the country.

Students will only miss four days of school because of the academic calendar.

"Next week was already an abbreviated week as Tuesday is primary day and schools were scheduled to be closed for voting," Fennoy said.

RELATED: Coronavirus coverage

The superintendent said all district offices will remain open, so all 12-month employees are expected at work, but teachers and support staff are not to return to work until further notice.

"Being closed next week will also give the district time to evaluate and fine tune our remote digital-learning opportunities for our students should that become necessary," Fennoy said.

Schools will not reopen until March 30 at the earliest.

"Over the next two weeks we will evaluate that timeline and decide if it is in our best interest to extend that date," Fennoy said.

Fennoy said the decision to close schools was difficult to make.

"I understand that closing schools will be a burden on many families," Fennoy said. "I don't take this lightly. I am the superintendent, but I'm also the father of a 4-year-old who goes to day care, so I have to decide over the weekend how we will deal with this. So I understand and empathize with all families impacted."

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw also had a message for parents.

"Keep control of your kids, please," Bradshaw said. "They're going to be out of school for two weeks. We all know what happens when the summer break comes. Issues start popping up, alright, so we don't want a bunch of people just wandering around out here aimlessly with nothing to do."

So far, public schools in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties have not altered their schedules.