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Coronavirus Live Updates: Palm Beach Schools Superintendent And Board Members Hear Public Support — And Criticism

Dr. Donald Fennoy speaking at a forum hosted by the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce.
Screengrab via Facebook
Dr. Donald Fennoy speaking at a forum hosted by the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce.

This post will be updated today, Thursday, September 17, 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.


Palm Beach Schools Superintendent And Board Members Hear Public Support — And Criticism

Updated Thursday at 5:20 p.m.

Palm Beach County Superintendent Donald Fennoy faced scathing criticism over school reopening plans from several groups of constituents at a school board meeting Wednesday.

He also had some support from the public. Meanwhile, board member Dr. Barbara Robinson said pointing fingers benefits no one.

“There is a lot of blame going on,” Robinson said. “And I think we each own some of it. Some more than others. But we are in crisis. For me, blaming at this point is counterproductive. We can do that later.”

State Sen. Bobby Powell made an appearance at the board meeting and said that any blame for school reopening issues should start at the top.

He said Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran forced local schools to open.

“The issue of school reopening is not necessarily the fault of the school board superintendent. But what I will tell you is that yes, there probably were missteps but it starts at the top,” Powell said. “The recommendation that schools reopen started with our governor. Our secretary of education, department of education, Richard Corcoran pushed for this.”

Earlier Wednesday the teachers’ union sent a memo requesting that Fennoy resign because of his leadership in the run up to next Monday’s school reopening.

—Wilkine Brutus/WLRN News

Miami-Dade Schools Will Launch COVID-19 Dashboard Once Campuses Reopen

Updated Thursday at 3:20 p.m.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools will launch a dashboard for reporting COVID-19 cases that emerge when campuses reopen, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced Thursday during a meeting of the district’s medical advisors.

“Our school system — we believe in transparency, obviously,” Carvalho said, “and we’ll be launching a public-facing dashboard to inform the community as COVID cases may be detected anywhere in our school system, whether they are on the part of students or employees.”

A spokeswoman for Carvalho said the dashboard will show new cases by school.

The district administration hopes to have the dashboard up and running on the day schools open. That could be Oct. 5 or sooner. The school board will meet on Monday to decide if and when to bring students back to campuses.

Carvalho also said Thursday that he prefers a phased approach, first bringing back students with disabilities and younger kids, followed by older students.

—Jessica Bakeman/WLRN News

Broward Mental Health Care Providers Get $125K To Help Parkland Shooting Survivors During Pandemic

Updated Thursday at 2:25 p.m.

When Howard Dvorkin founded Parkland Cares after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, he hoped the nonprofit would help meet the community’s mental health care needs in the long term.

Dvorkin, a CPA who has lived in Parkland for three decades, said he knew people affected by the shooting would face ongoing challenges. But he didn’t expect the stress and anxiety that comes with a global pandemic.

“People are isolated. People don't have that human interaction,” Dvorkin said. “There's a higher use of drugs and, frankly, self medication. ... And it's really taking a toll on those people that have psychological challenges in our communities.”

Earlier this month, Parkland Cares awarded $125,000 to local mental health care providers, including Broward Behavioral Health Associates and Eagles' Haven. The awards are specifically aimed at helping those affected by the shooting as they cope with the triggers of COVID-19.

Dvorkin said the funding doesn’t come close to meeting the community’s needs.

“Frankly, we need more,” Dvorkin said. “Just like every organization, we are down on our funding. Our major fundraising event was canceled due to the pandemic, which puts pressure on us.”

Parkland Cares, which raises funds from foundations and private donations, has brought in only about half of what it expected so far this year.

—Jessica Bakeman/WLRN News

Statewide Coronavirus Cases Increase By More Than 3,200 Death Toll Reaches 13,247

Updated Thursday at 11:28 a.m.

Florida surpassed 670,000 positive cases of COVID-19 as Florida’s Department of Health confirmed an additional 3,255 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.

Florida now has a total of 674,456 confirmed positive cases, according to the state's health department.

Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties make up 909 of the newly reported cases. Monroe County only added eight cases overall.

Thursday's update also included the announcement of 147 new resident deaths, increasing the statewide number of people who died, including non residents, up to 13,247.

— By WLRN News

Catholic Schools In Miami-Dade And Broward Prepare To Reopen For In-Person Learning

Updated Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

Catholic schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, 49 elementary schools and eight high schools, will start to gradually reopen for in-person learning Sept. 23. The Archdiocese of Miami said it hopes to finish by Oct. 2.

However, distance learning will remain an option for those parents who want their children to stay at home.

Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski announced the decision, after discussing it with pastors, archdiocese administrators and principals.

Read more from our news partner at The Miami Herald.

— By Jimena Tavel/ The Miami Herald

Dozens Of Miami City Parks Set To Reopen After Months Of Closure During Pandemic

Updated Thursday at 8:25 a.m.

Miami plans to reopen more than 100 parks inside city limits on Sept. 28 after months of closure during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city will also lift certain restrictions on team sports and other park activities.

An internal memo confirmed the city’s plan for reopening as the number of COVID-19 cases in Miami-Dade continues to slowly decline. Officials are expected to make an announcement this week.

Since May, fewer than 30 of Miami’s city parks have been open for limited use. Dozens of small parks across the city remained closed over concerns there would not be enough room to allow people to keep proper social distance from each other to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Read more from our news partner at The Miami Herald.

— By Joey Flechas And Ana Claudia Chacin/ The Miami Herald