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Superintendent recommends Palm Beach County schools start with distance learning for 2020-21 academic year

Palm Beach County school board to vote on reopening plan Wednesday
Posted at 3:55 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 21:17:12-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The superintendent of the School District of Palm Beach County is recommending all public schools in the county begin the 2020-21 academic year with online distance learning.

According to the Palm Beach County school board's agenda, Dr. Donald Fennoy is recommending "starting the school year with distance learning for all students and allowing for a phased return to brick and mortar in-person instruction when county health conditions permit."

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Back To School

Fennoy cited the health and safety of students, staff members, and the community as a reason behind his recommendation.

School board members will look at Fennoy's recommendation and officially vote on a reopening plan for the 2020-21 academic year on Wednesday. After that, the district will submit its reopening plan to the Florida Department of Education for final approval.

The new school year in Palm Beach County is currently slated to start on Monday, Aug. 10.

In his recommendation, Fennoy said "health conditions will be reevaluated on a weekly basis to determine when a phased or staged return is possible."

Fennoy said his plan calls for a return to in-person instruction when Palm Beach County is allowed to enter Phase Two of Florida's reopening plan.

However, Fennoy added that "the District must also be prepared to pivot back to distance learning should conditions deteriorate due to a subsequent wave of outbreaks."

Last week, the Palm Beach County School Board reached a consensus, but not a final decision, that the 2020-21 academic year should begin with online-only learning because of concerns over the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus

According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 21,806 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Palm Beach County, including 611 deaths.