Thomas C. Tobin - Topics Editor

Topics Editor

No one is luckier than I am. As an assistant metro editor, I practice journalism every day with a talented team of writers who cover news about education, health and transportation. A mix of veterans and newer faces, they bring a passion to their work that makes me proud and helps keep our community better informed. I was born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., but Tampa Bay and I go way back. When I got here in the late 1980s, our state was just coming into its own as the economic, political and cultural powerhouse it is today. Since then I've covered local and state government, legal issues and education. I have traveled across Florida as the Times state reporter and even delved into the world of Scientology. Each day I learn from people. Reach out and tell me something.

  1. The Medicare open enrollment period begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7 every year, giving millions of Americans a chance to adjust their coverage for the upcoming calendar year.
  2. The 138 Tampa Bay students selected as National Merit Semifinalists are among 16,000 high school seniors nationwide competing for some 7,600 scholarships worth a total of more than $30 million.
  3. Students move through the line toward the school entrance, on the first day of school for Hillsborough County students, at Hillsborough High School on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020 in Tampa.
  4. Students arrive by bus at a drop off circle on the first day of school before the start of classes at the entrance of Gulf High School on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in New Port Richey.
  5. Aug. 24• The Education Gradebook
    Students lock up bicycles at Gulf Middle School during the first day of school for Pasco County Schools on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in New Port Richey.
  6. Aug. 4• The Education Gradebook
    From left, teacher Tara Hernandez and students Angel Lozano and Dominic Cuahutenango wear masks and practice social distancing during a summer program this year at Redlands Christian Migrant Association Academy in Wimauma. Similar practices will be used when the regular school year starts in late August.
  7. Sunlake High senior Anna Nelson cleaned out her locker on May 26 as the 2019-20 school year came to a close amid a shutdown due to the coronavirus crisis. A new year starts soon, with Tampa Bay area school districts having moved their start dates to late August as the virus continues to make scheduling difficult.
  8. The 2020-21 school year will start Aug. 24, the Pinellas County School Board decided Tuesday evening, a move that buys the district more time to figure out the logistics of offering two kinds of schooling. The original start date was Aug. 12.
  9. Pinellas County school superintendent Mike Grego, citing coronavirus concerns, is proposing that schools reopen on Aug. 24 instead of Aug. 12.
  10. Ezequiel Mezquite, 20, of Clearwater, faces charges of DUI and possession of marijuana, according to Clearwater police.
  11. Students from Hernando County's Central High line up on graduation day.
  12. University of South Florida president Steve Currall, left, and St. Petersburg College president Tonjua Williams have released statements on the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the protests that have ensued.
  13. In a time before social distancing, these graduates at Tampa's Carrollwood Day School stood together and threw their caps in celebration. The world is counting on a return to those days.
  14. This is the way it used to look when students lined up for graduation at Pasco High, before social distancing. For now, Pasco schools are holding virtual graduations, but officials say they want to hold in-person graduations in August if conditions regarding the coronavirus allow it.
  15. Madison Hickey, along with 137 other seniors from Clearwater Central Catholic High, participated in a social distancing graduation on Sunday.
  16. The Gibbs High Class of 2018 celebrated after graduation ceremonies at Tropicana Field, where the Pinellas County school system typically holds most of its graduations. In this most atypical of school years, district officials say they are discussing the possibility of in-person ceremonies at the indoor stadium this summer, providing conditions with the coronavirus allow it.
  17. Parents, family and friends observe social distancing guidelines while attending the senior graduation car parade May 1 at Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa.
  18. This time last year, graduates from Durant High received their diplomas at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa. Hillsborough County school officials have reserved the facility for July with the hope of having in-person ceremonies, if conditions with the coronavirus allow it.
  19. Pinellas County and other school districts are distributing free, prepackaged breakfast and lunch meals during the coronavirus crisis. Pinellas announced Saturday that it will help slow the spread of the virus by reducing distribution days while still giving out the same number of meals.
  20. The Durant High School Class of 2019 waits to receive their diplomas during a ceremony last May at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa. This year, despite the coronavirus, officials in Hillsborough and other area counties are hoping conditions allow for commencement ceremonies to be held.
  21. A view of Plant Hall at the University of Tampa, where officials announced Friday that a student living off campus had tested positive for COVID-19.
  22. The emergency entrance to St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg, part of the BayCare Health System, which on Friday announced changes to its policies on visitors and drive-through testing.
  23. A number of "non essential" medical procedures, including non-urgent dental work, are prohibited under a new order by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.