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Community starts preparing for starting the new school year virtually

Del Prado Elementary School. (WPEC)
Del Prado Elementary School. (WPEC)
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Parents, students, teachers and others in Palm Beach County on Thursday started getting used to the likelihood school will begin next month, not on campus, but virtually.

Citing the recent surge in coronavirus cases in Palm Beach County School Board members, meeting in a workshop session Wednesday, backed distance learning as the method to start the new school year set to begin Aug. 10.

The School Board is expected to formally approve the move at a meeting Wednesday, July 15. After that, the Florida Department of Education must sign off on the district's plans.

“One of the biggest worries to me is that these kids are not going to have their teachers eyes on them,” said Diana Reese, a volunteer guardian ad litem who advocates for children in court.

Reese is with Speak Up for Kids, a not-for-profit supporting Palm Beach County’s guardian ad litem program, as well as Foster Palm Beach, which recruits foster parents. she pointed out teachers, like police and health care professionals, are among those required to report any instances of abuse.

“They really see what’s happening with these kids on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “They notice changes in their behaviors, sometimes before someone else.”

On Thursday in Jacksonville, Gov. Ron DeSantis said if Walmart and Home Depot are open for business, kids can physically attend school.

DeSantis was joined by U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, who said it’s lower income Americans who have a tougher time when kids stay home and distance learn.

“So it’s hard enough to telecommute when kids are in school," Secretary Scalia said. "But for many parents, that’s not even an option. Those are lower income parents we know have been hit harder by the virus.”

But Palm Beach County School Board members addressed the importance of facilitating all students, including those where English is not the first language in the home.

School Board members also discussed the possibility buildings might still open for teachers who want to conduct their virtual lessons in their regular classrooms.

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