By Jim McCarthy and Mandy Miles

Schools throughout Monroe County extended spring break to an additional week per the Florida Department of Education’s direction on March 13. With students on a two-week hiatus, they won’t return to the classroom until March 30.

Late on March 13, the department of education held a conference call with superintendents across the state regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Not only were schools told to shut down for another week, they also were instructed to halt extracurricular activities, from sporting events to musicals, for the next two weeks. Spring testing for students will also be delayed for two weeks. 

District officials recognize that many low-income students depend on the schools to provide free and reduced-price breakfasts and lunches throughout the week, said Mindy Conn, school board chair.

Starting Monday, March 23, the district will distribute meals to those eligible students from 11 a.m. to noon at seven locations countywide. 

Coral Shores High School
Coral Shores High School

“We’ll do it on a drive-through basis at each location,” Conn said. “But parents must bring their children with them, because we’re only allowed to give the food to the students. We’ll give each student one lunch and a breakfast for the following day.”

Conn added that representatives from the SOS Foundation food pantry may also be present at the school sites to distribute bulk food to families.

“We’re coordinating with the SOS Foundation food pantry right now on the efforts so we’re not duplicating,” she said. 

Key West High School
Key West High School

The district’s response to COVID-19 from the beginning has been with a focus on prevention.Enhanced surface cleaning protocols will continue this week in all schools and buildings. 

“Teachers will come back next week and we want everything to be sanitized,” Conn said. 

The school district is also encouraging the following simple acts of personal hygiene to prevent the onset and spread of COVID-19:

  • If you have not already done so, the Monroe County Health Department is recommending that you get a flu shot.
  • Stay home if you have flu-like symptoms or any upper respiratory issues. 
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick or exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

The CDC offers the following things to consider before you travel within the United States;

  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you are going?
  • Will you or your travel companion(s) be in close contact with others during your trip (e.g. air travel, conferences, public events)? Are you or your travel companion(s) at high risk of severe illness if you do ge

In regard to COVID-19, the district recommends extra caution regarding hygiene and prevention. Information is constantly changing. More information is at keysschools.com.

At College of the Florida Keys, most classes immediately will transition to completely online instruction until Monday, April 6. More information is at www.fkcc.edu

“We’ll give each student one lunch and a breakfast for the following day.”

— Mindy Conn, Monroe County School District Board chair.


School meal distribution sites

Free and reduced-price school meals will be distributed on a drive-through basis starting at 11 a.m. Monday, March 23. Parents must bring all eligible children with them. Meals will not be given to parents without children. Meals will be distributed at the following seven locations: 

  • Coral Shores High School
  • Marathon High School
  • Sugarloaf School
  • Key Largo School
  • Gerald Adams Elementary
  • Horace O’Bryant School
  • Key West High School

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