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Coronavirus Live Updates: All South Florida Districts Now Have State Approval For Starting School Online, Opening Campuses Later

School bus with a student
Carl Juste
Miami Herald

WLRN staff continues to add to community resource lists, including this article on where kids and families can get food while schools are closed, and this post about whether and where to get tested for coronavirus.

The dedicated website for the Florida Department of Health, including information about symptoms and numbers of cases, can be found here.

The dedicated website from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be found here.

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All South Florida Districts Now Have State Approval For Starting School Online, Opening Campuses Later

Updated Wednesday at 2:25 p.m.

After revising its plan to appease state officials, the School District of Palm Beach County has now secured the Florida Department of Education’s sign off for its plan to begin remote learning Aug. 31 and open campuses later, if and when COVID-19 conditions improve.

The district had faced pushback from the state about its initial plan for an eventual phased reopening, which aimed to prioritize students considered most in need of in-person instruction — those with disabilities and in “transition” years like kindergarten and ninth grade. The district’s revised plan is now approved, after the school board and superintendent agreed to let parents in all grades choose whether to send their students to school or keep them online, whenever health officials deem it’s safe to do so.

While local school boards hold constitutional authority over their districts, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran had threatened to withhold funding, and flexibility from certain state mandates, from districts that refused to offer in-person schooling for all students five days a week, depending on health measures.

With the approval for Palm Beach, now all South Florida districts’ plans have been okayed. Read them here: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe (part one and two).

Broward and Monroe began the remote school year first, with students logging on Wednesday. Miami-Dade and Palm Beach will start Aug. 31.

— Jessica Bakeman/WLRN

Monroe Extends Restaurant, Booze Sales Till Midnight

Updated Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Restaurants can stay open and stores can sell alcohol until midnight in the Keys, the Monroe County Commission decided Wednesday.

That's an extension of an hour from the previous rules.

Key West restaurateur Bill Lay said he'd like to see the early closing time go away entirely, but an extra hour would help.

"We have already been told that events have been canceled till the end of the year," he said. "Weekends is what we have."

— Nancy Klingener/WLRN News

Statewide Coronavirus Cases Increase By 4,115, Death Toll Approaches 10,000

Updated Wednesday at 1:40 p.m.

Florida surpassed 584,000 positive cases of COVID-19 as Florida’s Department of Health confirmed an additional 4,115 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Florida has a total of 584,047 confirmed positive cases, according to the state's health department.

Wednesday's update also included the announcement of 174 new deaths, increasing the statewide number to 9,932.

-WLRN News

Coronavirus Florida: Vaccine Trial Gets Underway As State Deaths Close In On 10,000

Updated Wednesday at 11:00 a.m.

The COVID-19 vaccine trial in Palm Beach County will start revealing results by November with the possibility it will be available — if it works — to the public by January, doctors running the study say.

The first 10 subjects of the trial were expected to receive the vaccine on Tuesday at the campus of JFK Medical Center in Atlantis. The vaccine arrived Monday morning for the Phase III trial, the final step before governmental approval.

The news coincided with the state Department of Health reporting a reversal of a three-day decrease in the number of deaths, with an additional 219 deaths reported. Statewide, the death toll stands at 9,893, including 1,022 in the county.

Florida considers who will be allowed to visit nursing homes — and what that will look like

Read more from our news partner at the Palm Beach Post.

-By John Pacenti

Florida Considers Who Will Be Allowed To Visit Nursing Homes — And What That Will Look Like

Updated Wednesday at 10:45 a.m.

Husbands, wives, daughters, sons or anyone who considers themselves an essential caregiver for a senior in an eldercare facility should be allowed to visit their loved one again.

A state task force will make that recommendation to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, among other suggestions, this week.

The task force wants facilities to identify one caregiver — or more if manageable — and allow that person back in to resume helping with the care of their family member. Florida’s nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have been on a virtual lockdown since mid-March, the result of an executive order by the governor.

Read more from our news partner at the Sun Sentinel.

-By Cindy Krischer Goodman

Schools May Remain Open Even If A Student Has COVID

Updated Wednesday at 10:40 a.m.

The state of Florida wants to call the shots if COVID-19 makes its way into school buildings.

School districts shouldn’t rush to close schools or even classrooms if a student becomes infected, state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran says. They should check with his office first.

Corcoran’s advice, given to superintendents Thursday, is getting pushback from many health and education officials, who argue that school closures and quarantines are decisions best left to local school districts and health officials, not to bureaucrats in Tallahassee.

Read more from our news partner at the Sun Sentinel.

-By Scott Travis

A Surge In COVID-19 Cases Means Tighter Lockdowns In The Bahamas And Jamaica

Updated Wednesday at 10:37 a.m.

The Bahamas has shut down all public offices in its capital, banned all international flights except for emergencies, restricted hotels to essential staff only, and ordered journalists to first contact the police if they need to be out on the street.

They’re all part of new controls the country began Tuesday to slow the spread of COVID-19 in New Providence.

With more than 1,100 active COVID-19 cases and its healthcare system on the verge of collapse, New Providence has to go under stricture measures for the next seven days, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis warned late Monday. The measures, he said, were to take effect immediately.

Read more from our news partner at the Miami Herald.

-By Jacqueline Charles