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Influencers weigh in on coronavirus’ continuing effect

Palm Beach, FL  |  July 27, 2020 11:00am  |  By Leslie Gray Streeter

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How should employers assist a workforce stressed by the responsibilities of virtual schooling in the wake of ever-increasing coronavirus numbers in Palm Beach County? What statistics and facts are shaping locals’ understanding of the crisis? And what activities or hobbies have been explored since the shutdown earlier this year?

These were the questions posed to 430 Palm Beach County civic, business and community leaders as part of the Palm Beach Post’s July Power Poll. In total, 120 answered three questions about how the pandemic continues to shape our lives.

The first question for this month’s poll was “Palm Beach County public schools likely will have students start the school year online, which is a burden for parents who work. If you are an employer, or if you were, what would you do to help parents who must work while their children get their schooling online?”

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  • COVID-19 Safe Return Plan that involves parents, teachers, and staff. While Alexandria would like to see students back in the classroom as soon as safely possible, we should listen to science and health experts and invest in technology that allows for distance learning in the meantime. Let’s work to create innovative learning environments that ensure student safety and success.
  • Improve Student Achievement amongst all students by working closely with teachers and parents on tracking student progress, ensuring families have access to education resources and supporting schools that need additional funding and assistance.
  • Support Our Teachers so they receive the programs, resources and technology they need, especially as we continue facing the challenges of COVID-19.
  • Keep Our Schools Safe by ensuring students, teachers and employees have a safe place to learn. This includes focusing on physical safety, as well as mental health support and counseling.
  • Effectively Manage the Budget and ensure that District 2 schools receive their fair share of funding.

A Passion for Education. A Voice for Our Community.

Alexandria is running for the Palm Beach County School Board to ensure each and every child has the same opportunity to succeed that she did. 

As a community advocate, Alexandria has championed causes and issues focused on education, empowering women and helping local communities. She has volunteered her time as a Guest Lecturer in our local high schools, help college bound students with their applications and worked with the Education Foundation, Hispanic Education Coalition and Leadership Palm Beach County on education initiatives.

As a former Legislative Aide in Tallahassee, Alexandria served constituents and worked on policy issues that impacted Palm Beach County’s families, businesses and schools.

Now, as a Legislative Aide on our County Commission, Alexandria works each day to address community concerns, form successful partnerships and support policy initiatives that strengthen our neighborhoods and empower our residents.

Alexandria was born in Puerto Rico, raised in Palm Beach County, and she is a proud product of our public schools.  If elected, she would be the first Hispanic woman elected to the School Board.



Paid by Alexandria Ayala for School Board

An overwhelming 70.83 percent of respondents replied “I would find a way for them to work at home.” Fifteen percent chose “I would change their hours or find another job in the company that better works with their schedule,” while 10 percent chose “I would try to set up some kind of daycare at the workplace” and 4.17 percent picked “Having a child is the parents’ responsibility. They need to be prepared for when their children can’t go to school.”

“These are extraordinary times for the world,” said Jan Cairnes, CEO of West Palm Beach’s Hanley Foundation. ”...Talking about sending or not sending children back to school is such a difficult topic. I suggest that we eliminate grade levels in schools and eliminate the term ‘holding children back’ and just know that some children are going to excel with home/online schooling, and many children are going to be behind. Does it matter if your child goes to college at 18 or 19? It doesn’t.”

The second question on this month’s poll was about what criteria and information people turn to. “As the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge through Palm Beach County and Florida, what are the statistics you look for to understand the outbreak?” Most respondents, 33.3 percent, answered “I look for the positivity rate - how many people test positive among those tested. If it’s above 10%, I see that as a cause for concern; under 10%, then I think we’re making progress.”

Thirty two percent answered “I look at the total number of coronavirus cases. If those numbers keep rising, chances are other numbers will rise as well,” while 19.7% said, “I seek out the number of people hospitalized. That tells me that while the number of overall cases may be large, the cases are not that serious if the hospitalization numbers are decreasing,” and 15 percent chose “I look for the death rate - the number of people who die from the disease from the total number of positive cases. Whether we have a lot of cases, or a few, it’s a telling number.

“Positivity rate is probably the best number to look at, but percentage of symptomatic patients would serve a purpose as well,” said Palm Beach Gardens City Council member Mark Marciano. “For business owners, how are we handling our staffing issues with more people being out of work due to a viral infection.”

The third and final question for the July poll was about how locals have spent their time since the lock down. The question: “It looks like Palm Beach County won’t be entering Phase 2 of its reopening anytime soon, so that means more hunkering down at home. Since the shutdown began, what skills or hobbies have you picked up or gotten back into?”

More than half of respondents, 52.5 percent, selected the answer “Built/created something either useful or artistic.” The second-most selected answer, “None. Binged on Netflix and Ben & Jerry’s,” was the choice of 40.83 percent of respondents. ” Four percent said that they “learned how to play a musical instrument,” and 2.5 percent wrote “learned a new language.”


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