Palm Beach County School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri said Wednesday that Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees had “politically silenced” County Health Director Alina Alonso from recommending that public schools not reopen campuses next month.
Barbieri and his colleagues had agreed that schools should start with online learning only. Then last week, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran ordered that schools open with five-day-a-week, in-person learning as an option. The order, though, said decisions could be conditioned on advice from local health officials.
Alonso, Barbieri said, was prepared to write a letter recommending against reopening campuses, given the surge in new cases. But Rivkees told Alonso to “keep her mouth shut,” Barbieri said. Alonso had offered to write a letter on school district letterhead, yet she declined after the call from Rivkees.
Without such a letter, Corcoran might be able to reject Superintendent Donald Fennoy’s reopening plan that begins with distance learning. Barbieri called Rivkees’ action “shameful.” His remarks came as the board prepared to hear public comment on the plan and then vote.
This item will be updated in Thursday’s City Watch post.