PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Students in Palm Beach County returned to class on Monday, and school and law enforcement leaders said the first day back went very smoothly.
"Nothing major happened this morning," said Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy at a Monday afternoon news conference. "A great day overall."
"As you can imagine on the first day with so many people, there's little minor details to take care of, but nothing of consequence," said school district Police Chief Frank Kitzerow. "Just a very, very good day."
Dr. Fennoy, Police Chief Kitzerow, and Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw visited Jupiter Elementary School early Monday morning. The school raised its letter grade from a "C" to an "A."
Dr. Fennoy said school safety is the district's number one priority this year.
"Obviously everything happening in our country and everything we’ve experienced here in South Florida, that has been our priority all summer," said Dr. Fennoy. "[We are] really pushing to make sure our schools are safe, both things that people can physically see and those they can’t see."
Dr. Fennoy said while we navigate school in this post-Parkland era, he wants students to have a positive school experience.
"So many of the things we are dealing with are adult issues," said Dr. Fennoy. "So I just want as much as possible for our kids to enjoy school, continue the great work our teachers and staff have done for our kids."
This year, every school campus in Palm Beach County will have a mental health professional on hand to speak to students.
"Important is an understatement," Dr. Fennoy said. "It’s required in this day and age. I think whatever we can do as a school system, as a community, to have caring adults for every child in our district is something we want to make sure happens."
Dr. Fennoy said it's just as important to support both staff members and students in this new reality. He added there is a new emphasis and push on post-secondary education starting earlier.
"Exposing children and families to different career options early," said Dr. Fennoy. "We want our kids to experiment in IT if they are interested in that, or culinary or drone operations. You know the workforce is changing and so we’re trying to be nimble working with our partners at FAU and Palm Beach State, Palm Beach Atlantic, and all these different universities, but also trying to make sure our kids are aware of the different types of job opportunities that are available to them. We as a community realize the ultimate goal of education is for our children to go on and join the workforce and be great citizens."
Dr. Fennoy also has some basic hopes and goals for the year.
"I hope our kids make new friends. I hope our kids begin to model for us adults what society should look like and how people should interact with one another. [I want to] encourage our kids to be more inclusive, to listen to one another, to learn about one another in a way they haven’t before but more importantly even learn about themselves. I think that’s a great start too. That's what I’m hoping for our kids, is to be better than us, and that’s what I’m really excited about," said Dr. Fennoy.
Dr. Fennoy added it's important for parents to keep their contact information up-to-date with their child’s school and monitor their social media usage.
"The more we as parents can do to assist our kids in protecting them from themselves, I am strongly encouraging parents to do that," said Dr. Fennoy.
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