Coronavirus concerns are affecting school re-openings. On Monday Putnam County School Board members at a workshop to discuss re-opening agreed they wanted to delay openings until Aug. 24 on a recommendation from Superintendent Rick Surrency. They’ll make it official on Aug. 3 since they couldn’t take action during a workshop. Ten-month support personnel including teachers will be heading back on Aug. 17, if the board doesn’t change its mind. Students will return on Aug. 24. The district says it will give schools more time to plan, clean and train personnel. Although parents were to choose an option for how they wanted their child to attend school, not everyone filled out the form. About half who did chose returning to a brick-and-mortar school, about 36 percent opted for digital learning and 14.5 percent chose Putnam Virtual School. Now the district must contact parents who didn’t fill out the form and what they answer will make a difference on how schools divide their resources. Originally the district said if parents didn’t answer the children would be enrolled in a brick-and-mortar school.
St. Johns County School Board is meeting today and is expected to make a decision on their start date. General indication is the district and board also will delay opening. In Flagler County Monday was the deadline for parents and guardians to choose a learning option for their children. The district so far has said they will reopen Aug. 10, the date suggested by the state Department of Education.
Sports aren’t immune to coronavirus concerns. On Monday the Florida High School Athletic Association decided the fall sports calendar could basically stay as written. Teams can begin practicing July 27 and preseason classics can be held the week of Aug. 10. Some wanted practice to be delayed until Aug. 10 but the board didn’t agree with that. Their Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommended contact sports such as football be delayed. The board will hear more from the committee on Friday. It will be up to individual districts to make the decision on when to start practice and how to handle testing for coronavirus.
One of the doughboy statues on Palatka’s Memorial Bridge almost came down Monday after a 1998 Chevrolet S10 struck the base of the statue on Reid Street. The driver said he was trying to turn to go onto the bridge when the pouring rain on the pavement sent him into the statue’s rock base, chipping off a portion of the base. The statue, which features a World War I sailor holding a torpedo, is one of four from the original Memorial Bridge put up in 1927 and dedicated to memory of soldiers and sailors of Putnam County. When the bridge was replaced with a high-rise bridge in the 1970s, the statues which had been in the middle of the span were put at both ends. The accident Monday apparently didn’t damage the statue.
Coronavirus case numbers released Monday by the Florida Department of Health continued to grow. In Putnam County 24 cases were reported. Two transfers out of county were noted, bringing the overall case number since the count began to 984. In Flagler County 10 cases were reported, bring the total to 659. In St Johns County 109 cases were reported. Total in St. Johns is now at 2,541.
Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a so-called “Detective Hamilton”. Someone using that name and claiming to be with the Flagler Sheriff’ Office has contacted people, in one case ordering the victim to pay a $900 fine in lieu of being arrested. The Sheriff’s office says it will never request a fee be paid in order to avoid arrest. If this ever occurs, it is a scam, they say. If you have questions about whether a detective or deputy is employed by the Sheriff’s Office or have been contacted by “Detective Hamilton”, call 386-313-4911 or submit a tip at Tips@Flaglersheriff.com.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is among law enforcement agencies in Northeast Florida stepping up to help after the sheriff of Duval Country announced Monday he isn’t prepared to provide enough security for the influx of delegates expected for the Republican National Convention in August. Sheriff Mike Williams cited concerns over inadequate reimbursement, lack of clear plans and lack of personnel to handle visitors, delegates and possible protesters. Within hours area law enforcement was offering help including the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office saying they could provide 25 deputies and Clay County’s sheriff offering 40. St. Johns County isn’t committing. They’re expecting the overflow of delegate visitors since Duval County doesn’t have enough hotel rooms to house those expected to attend.