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Coronavirus Live Updates: Monroe Schools Announce Plan To Return To Classrooms

Dr. Donald Fennoy speaking at a forum hosted by the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce.
Monroe County School District
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Dr. Donald Fennoy speaking at a forum hosted by the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce.

This post will be updated today, Thursday, Aug. 27, and through the week with the latest information on COVID-19 in South Florida.

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.

To receive WLRN's coronavirus updates newsletter on Wednesdays and Saturdays, sign up here.

QUICK UPDATES

Monroe Schools Announce Plan To Return To Classrooms

Updated at 5:30 p.m.

Students will return to classrooms in the Keys, some of them starting Monday, Aug. 31, the district announced Thursday.

That's when schools will bring back those students who may need extra help navigating the new routines, according to a statement.

After Labor Day, students will be invited on a staggered schedule for orientation sessions on campus.

And on Sept. 14, the district will be on the hybrid plan from the reopening guidebook produced over the summer. Kids from pre-K through 5th grades will be in the classroom every day, while students in grades 6-12 will alternate between in-person attendance and virtual school from home.

"Virus spread in our community is not at a high level; it has been below 7 percent for the past 10 days," Superintendent Theresa Axford said in a statement. "After consultation with the health department, we believe as long as we all follow safety guidelines, students and teachers can remain safe and healthy."

Students will be required to wear masks and will be in cohorts that stay together for recess, lunch and other activities.

The alternating schedule for older students will be decided at each school. More information is available at the school district blog.

— Nancy Klingener/WLRN News

Statewide Coronavirus Cases Increase By More Than 3,200

Updated Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

Florida approached 612,000 positive cases of COVID-19 as Florida’s Department of Health confirmed an additional 3,269 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. Florida has a total of 611,991 confirmed positive cases, according to the state's health department.

Thursday's update also included the announcement of 135 new deaths, increasing the statewide number to 10,868. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties make up 4,609 of those reported deaths. Monroe County has reported 15 deaths due to COVID-19.

-WLRN News

Palm Beach Schools Superintendent: ‘My Wife Lost Both Of Her Parents To COVID’

Updated Thursday at 11:10 a.m.

The superintendent of Palm Beach County schools lost his in-laws to COVID-19.

Donald Fennoy shared the devastating impact the pandemic has had on his own family during a forum Wednesday afternoon hosted by the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce.

“None of us are exempt from this COVID thing, you know? My wife lost both of her parents in a matter of four weeks to COVID,” Fennoy said. “And because I’m the superintendent of schools, I could not go to the funeral, I could not take the kids. My wife had to deal with that by herself in another state — in Birmingham, Alabama. So when you lose both of your parents in short order, this becomes very real and personal for you, right?

“But think about it: How many of our employees, how many of you have had time to mourn?” he said. “We’re still working every day, trying to figure out a world that didn’t exist six months ago.”

Fennoy stressed the district’s focus on caring for students’ mental health heading into the new school year, starting remotely Monday. He said counseling will be available in multiple languages.

Watch the full forum here.

—Jessica Bakeman/WLRN News

Florida’s Initial Unemployment Claims Drop Sharply To New COVID-19 Low

Updated Thursday at 10:13 a.m.

First-time unemployment claims in Florida took a steep drop to 45,723, a level not seen since the COVID-19 pandemic first stunned the state and national economies in March.

Claims for the week ended Aug. 22 were off by 27,051, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday. But nationally, the figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims remained over 1 million, ending the week at 1,006,000, a decrease of 98,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

“There’s been no substantial easing of historically high demand for unemployment assistance, something we’ve seen for five months now,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.

Read more from our news partner at The Sun Sentinel.

— By David Lyons

Behind On Rent Or Electric Bills Due To COVID? Deadline To Get Help Is Close

Updated Thursday at 10:04 a.m.

Palm Beach County residents behind on rent or electric bills because of the coronavirus pandemic have just a few days left to apply for assistance.

Those seeking help to pay for rent or utilities have until 11:59 p.m. Monday to apply with the Palm Beach County Community Services Department.

The department said it will temporarily stop accepting applications to catch up on those waiting to be processed and will reopen the portal in October if dollars are still available.

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

— By Hannah Morse

After Outcry, West Palm To Spare Most Library, Park Jobs From Cuts Caused By Pandemic

Updated Thursday at 9:57 a.m.

Palm Beach County residents behind on rent or electric bills because of the coronavirus pandemic have just a few days left to apply for assistance.

Those seeking help to pay for rent or utilities have until 11:59 p.m. Monday to apply with the Palm Beach County Community Services Department.

The department said it will temporarily stop accepting applications to catch up on those waiting to be processed and will reopen the portal in October if dollars are still available.

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

— By Tony Doris

Two More Inmates Die Of COVID-19

Updated Thursday at 7:39 a.m.

Two more Florida inmates have died from complications of COVID-19, bringing the coronavirus death toll among prisoners to 88, according to a report released by state corrections officials on Wednesday.

The latest report showed that an additional 44 inmates and 30 corrections workers tested positive for the highly contagious coronavirus, which causes the respiratory illness known as COVID-19, since Tuesday.

As of mid-Wednesday, 15,445 inmates and 2,496 corrections workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ response to the virus, which continues to spread throughout Florida prisons, has remained focused on testing and isolating symptomatic inmates and workers.

State officials have offered testing to inmates and workers at 49 prisons in various parts of the state. Corrections workers are encouraged to get tested as part of the screening process, but are not required to do so. As of Wednesday, 7,643 of roughly 27,000 prison workers have undergone testing for COVID-19.

Data released Wednesday shows 227 workers were tested over the past week, with 156 of the workers testing positive for COVID-19. Five prisons --- Dade Correctional Institution, Wakulla Correctional Institution, Santa Rosa Correctional Institution, South Florida Reception Center and Everglades Correctional Institution --- each have at least 100 workers who have tested positive for the virus.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kayla McLaughlin declined to offer details on how the department is handling staffing at prisons with a large number of infected workers. The information is confidential and its release could jeopardize the security of inmates and officers,

McLaughlin said. “At this time, FDC has not experienced any degradation in security operations as a result of staff absences due to COVID-19,” she said.

— By NSF Staff