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Coronavirus Live Updates: Federal Waiver Renews Free School Lunches, Regardless Of Eligibility

Grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches were handed out to children 2 to 18 years old at a middle school in Arlington, Va.
Grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches were handed out to children 2 to 18 years old at a middle school in Arlington, Va.

This post will be updated today, Tuesday, September 8, 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

Federal Waiver Renews Free School Lunches, Regardless Of Eligibility

Updated Tuesday at 11:56 a.m.

South Florida school districts are resuming offering free meals to all children who are 18 or younger, regardless of whether they meet federal financial eligibility requirements for discounts.

In the spring, local school districts had provided free meals to all children under a waiver from the federal government, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A new waiver is now allowing districts to extend free meals through December.

The Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach districts already offer free breakfast to all students. Most schools in the Florida Keys typically charge $1.75 for breakfast or $0.30 for discounted breakfast. Lunches in the three districts range from $2 to $2.85 for families who don’t qualify for free meals or the discounted rate of $0.40.

In Miami-Dade, Broward and the Keys, the change is immediate. Palm Beach will begin distributing the free meals Thursday. Meals are now available at most or all schools in each district.

— Jessica Bakeman/WLRN News

Statewide Coronavirus Cases Increase By 1,823, Resident Death Toll Rises To 11,915

Updated Tuesday at 11:39 a.m.

Florida surpassed 650,000 positive cases of COVID-19 as Florida’s Department of Health confirmed an additional 1,823 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Florida now has a total of 650,092 confirmed positive cases, according to the state's health department. Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties make up 641 of the newly reported cases. Monroe County only added one case overall.

Tuesday's update also included the announcement of 44 new resident deaths, increasing the statewide number of Florida residents who died up to 11,915.

— By WLRN News

Palm Beach County Schools Prepare For Phased Reopening

Updated Tuesday at 9:18 a.m.

Parents of public school students in Palm Beach County have until tomorrow to indicate whether they’ll be sending their children to school buildings in the coming weeks or plan to keep them learning virtually from home.

Some students with disabilities will have the option to return to campuses Sept. 16, and all kids will be able to take in-person classes starting Sept. 21. The plan follows a decision from Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and local leaders to transition Palm Beach County into phase two of reopening.

Parents must fill out a survey here alerting the district of their choice: in-person or remote schooling.

“As part of this process, parents and guardians are also asked to provide their transportation needs,” according to a statement from the district. “Students eligible to ride a bus will be assigned a bus stop as well as their pickup and drop-off times.”

Palm Beach is the first large school district in South Florida to welcome students back since schools first closed in mid-March to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Miami-Dade and Broward county districts have also indicated they will pursue phased reopenings, allowing students with disabilities to return first. The superintendents of those districts have said mid-September reopenings were possible, but they have not yet announced target dates.

In the smaller school districts in the Florida Keys, students are back in classrooms today.

—Jessica Bakeman/WLRN News


Miami-Dade School District Surveys Parents On Controversial Online Learning Platform

Updated Tuesday at 9:00 a.m.

After a frustrating first week of online learning disruptions in Miami-Dade County, the school district is surveying parents of pre-kindergartners through fifth graders to get their feedback about the new My School Online platform delivered by the for-profit company K12.

Cyber attacks and software glitches made it impossible for many teachers and students to log on for remote classes last week, leading administrators to decide that middle and high school grades should no longer use the platform. Classes in those grades are using Microsoft Teams and Zoom instead.

The younger grades, though, remain on the controversial platform for now, although Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told WLRN on Friday he had still not signed the $15.3 million contract with K12.

Parents can take the survey, which is available in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole, by logging into the parent portal here.

“K12 remains committed to performing a series of improvements to the platform over the course of the week, and M-DCPS will closely monitor their progress through September 11,” the district said in a statement on Monday.

According to the statement, administrators have not yet decided when school buildings will reopen for in-person classes.

“The District continues to explore a staggered return to school, prioritizing vulnerable students including those with disabilities,” the statement said.

—Jessica Bakeman/WLRN News

Hand Sanitizer Distributed By Coral Gables Company Recalled For Having ‘Toxic’ Methanol

Updated Tuesday at 8:56 a.m.

A hand sanitizer distributed in Miami by a Coral Gables company was added to the FDA’s Do Not Use list on Friday after being recalled on Thursday.

AJR Trading recalled lot No. 20DF8307 of bio aaa Advance Hand Sanitizer in 480 ml bottles, expiration date April, 2022, after the FDA said its testing found methanol. Methanol, also known as “wood alcohol,” can be toxic if rubbed into the skin, according to the FDA.

This hand sanitizer can be returned to the store of purchase for a full refund. Report any problems to your medical professional, then the FDA online at their MedWatch Adverse Event page or call 800-332-1088.

Read more from our news partner at The Miami Herald.

— By David J. Neal / The Miami Herald

DeSantis Itching To Reopen Just About Everything But Florida’s Government

Updated Tuesday at 8:47 a.m.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing to reopen Florida to help the state emerge from the coronavirus shutdown, but the government he oversees remains largely closed.

There hasn’t been an in-person Cabinet meeting since February. The Capitol remains shut down to the public. State workers are still operating under social-distancing restrictions and mask-wearing guidelines.

But the governor has insisted on opening schools for in-person learning, allowed visitors for nursing homes, encouraged theme parks to expand attendance caps, invited more tourists to the state and is looking at reducing restrictions on bars and restaurants.

Read more from our news partner at The South Florida Sentinel.

— By Gray Rohrer / The South Florida Sentinel