Schools monitoring cornovirus situation ahead of spring break

OKEECHOBEE– UPDATE: Following a conference call with school superintendents, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, all schools will be closed until March 30.


All extra curricular activities are also cancelled for the next two weeks, with a decision to be made on that date regarding the remainder of the year.


“As the situation continues to mature, we are mindful that a lot can happen during this timespan,”said Okeechobee Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy. “We continue to practice prevention measures. We are exploring what we would do instructionally in case of a closure. Conversations are occurring about offering lunches in perhaps a drive through setting if necessary to keep our children fed.”


The schools may rely on Chromebooks if a decision is made by the board and district to close for a longer period. Currently each student in grades 6-12 have already been assigned a Chromebook for regular usage every day. The district reports they have enough Chromebooks for students in grades 2-12. Some of the online instructional software may be able to be operated on a cell phone as well after downloading an app. Students in kindergarten through first grade will have generic assignments posted on each school’s website.


Earlier this week Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said he’s recruiting more teachers for the virtual school in case of a shutdown. Mr. Corcoran said the state is prepared to train an additional 10,000 teachers in the next 15 to 20 days to conduct online classes in case schools need to be closed.


Palm Beach County superintendent of schools Dr. Donald Fennoy announced on March 13 that PBC schools wouldn’t reopen until March 30 at the earliest. Palm Beach schools’ spring break falls on the week March 23 though 27, meaning students are effectively only losing about a week of instructional time.


“We caution parents, students and staff about traveling during the break,” explained Mr. Kenworthy. “If there are continued outbreaks in certain locations throughout our world, country and region, new guidance may be provided regarding re-entry into school. At that time, we will yield to the CDC and local Department of Health for guidance.”


The School Board of Okeechobee County requests that all parents and guardians inform their schools by telephone or email if people in their household have traveled to restricted areas that the CDC has deemed to be high-risk for widespread sustained transmission of the virus. Currently the CDC lists China, Iran, South Korea and Europe as restricted areas to avoid. If returning from those areas you should call the Okeechobee Health Department at 863-462-5800 and follow their guidance. Upon notification, schools will work with district and community health officials to determine the appropriate action regarding re-entry of those children into the school.

The Okeechobee County School district asks that you please consider those restricted areas when making travel plans for spring break

The school district’s primary source of communication during the break will be through the district website at www.okee.k12.fl.us.

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