A District in Chaos?

Summarizing the Last Six Months of School Board Drama


David Rudd, Editor

As students return to school, accusations are spewing around the school district. Palm Beach County’s teacher’s union called for the superintendent’s resignation due to his gross mishandling of education in the pandemic. The School Board chose not to fire Superintendent Donald E. Fennoy II. This article is poised to answer three questions: How did the district and teachers prepare over the course of the pandemic? What does the return to school plan look like and is it being executed successfully? What are the long term consequences for Palm Beach County Public Schools and nearly 200,000 students?

When Covid-19 first struck the United States, Superintendent Fennoy II was hesitant but closed down schools just as the rest of the country began to do so. While originally planning a one week shutdown leading into an already scheduled spring break, the severity of the virus forced the school to close for the remainder of the 2020 school year. The final quarter of last school year had some teachers choosing to hold live classes while others assigned work through the now mandatory Google Classroom. Everyone adapted and completed the unprecedented final few months.

Going into the 2021 school year, everyone from the students, teachers, and district leaders knew what to expect. The school year was delayed a few weeks, but ultimately school started up again. Beginning online, teachers now had to hold mandatory meetings for the entirety of the class periods. Regular, in person school was replicated as best as possible. Then a few weeks into the year students were given the opportunity to choose to return to school campuses. This decision appears to have broken the camel’s back. Just days before students were destined to return, the superintendent’s job was in jeopardy after calls for his removal.

As students began the return, schools followed protective measures to ensure student safety. Students in classrooms must be at least six feet apart (and are often farther) and must wear a mask. If a classroom has too many students, they are sent to an overflow room. At West Boca, the cafeteria, media center, and the gym are designated overflow rooms. Desks are set up at a distance, and students join the Google Meet call as if they were at home.

While the exact number of COVID cases resulting from students returning is seemingly on the rise, the precautionary measures and limited number of students should lead to few cases. 

Around the district, however, some schools have come under fire for not practicing required safety measures. A picture of students at Boca High spread through social media and local news. The picture shows a crowd of students, (who appear to be wearing masks,) packed into a tight space. The proper apologies have been made, but for some, this is not enough. Many believe the damage has already been done, and that the picture displays negligence in the school’s staff.

As students return to school campuses, we should all hope the school district did the best possible job at creating the perfect balance between education and the health of students, their families, and local communities. The next few months will definitely be interesting. All we can do is hope that everyone is healthy, and at some point this year, we can all return.


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