The Palm Beach Post | By Sonja Isger | January 18, 2022
Burke said his symptoms were mild, beginning with a scratchy throat that surfaced in the days after his return from a trip to see state lawmakers in Tallahassee last week. He said the symptoms kept him home Thursday and Friday despite negative at-home tests each day. Then Saturday a third test came back positive, he said.
“I have no idea where I got it,” Burke said. “I’m vaccinated. I’m boosted. But I guess it wasn’t enough for omicron. The good news is that’s probably why it was so mild.”
Coming off a three-day weekend, Burke said he intended to keep his Tuesday schedule but conduct his meetings remotely. He said, per district policy, he will be able to return to the office and attend the scheduled school board meeting Wednesday.
Burke said that so far, his wife has avoided infection.
300 new infections of school district employees last week
At least 1,500 of the district’s employees have tested positive since the school year began in August, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard. More than 300 of those were logged last week. That’s double the fall peak, which came in the fourth week of August.
There was no immediate word on whether the illness was picked up by Chief of Staff Jay Boggess or board member Alexandria Ayala, who were working with Burke during the opening week of the legislative session in Tallahassee.
Ayala said she has no symptoms but has an appointment to be tested Tuesday after at least four people she’d been in contact with recently, including the superintendent, reported having caught the virus.
“We took precautions, but there’s always that risk,” Ayala said.
“It was very lax up there,” said Ayala, the only Palm Beach County school board member to travel to Tallahassee last week. She said the capital was busy and a bit anxiety inducing for her.
Ayala: Culture in Tallahassee is not wearing a mask
She took her mask down only to eat, drink and upon the occasional request for maskless photographs. “As you can imagine, the culture in and around Tallahassee was not to be wearing one,” said Ayala, who said she made a point of upgrading to a KN95 mask.
The three, Burke, Ayala and Boggess were pictured together with Sen. Bobby Powell, Jr., all in masks on the opening day of session Jan. 11, and then posing in masks with Sen. Gayle Harrell the following day. Harrell went without a mask.
While public access to the 2021 legislative session was limited, restrictions were eased this year. House spokeswoman Jenna Sarkissian credited “significant improvements to facilities” in making those changes possible, the Florida News Service reported this month.