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Battling coronavirus, filling out the FAFSA and other Pinellas education news

News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.

Pinellas steps up school cleaning during virus outbreak

As the coronavirus continues to spread, the Pinellas County school system says it has stepped up efforts to clean and disinfect campuses. Classroom desks, chairs, door knobs and any touchable areas are being disinfected daily. Efforts are being made to ensure soap dispensers, paper towels and hand sanitizers are available in all facilities. Principals and school nurses are reminding students to wash their hands frequently, cough into a tissue or their elbow instead of their hands, refrain from touching their eyes, nose or mouth, and stay home when they are sick. The district also is posting flyers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that promote good hygiene, as well as providing an overview video to schools. In addition, district bus drivers will disinfect seats and areas students frequently touch at the end of their route each day. District officials are asking families to stay calm and rely on information from credible sources. The district will post updates to a special web site,

Eckerd College hosts talks on coral reefs, holistic health

Among the free events at Eckerd College in the coming week are discussions on coral reefs and holistic health. At 7 p.m. Monday, March 9, in the President’s Dining Room, several speakers will discuss the problems facing coral reefs and efforts to combat their decline. The group will include Zack Rago, a camera technician on the Netflix documentary Chasing Coral; Isa Rios and Marina Garmendia, creators of the Mexican nonprofit Coralisma; youth activist Charley Peebler and Eckerd College assistant professor Cory Krediet. The next evening, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Miller Auditorium, holistic health coach and Eckerd graduate Maya Carl will discuss “the undeniable interconnection among humans in community and the Earth — and learn how we can reevaluate our relationship with technology and create healthy, sustainable communities beyond our digital devices.” These and other events are open to the public. For more information, visit or call (727) 864-7979. To see offerings in Eckerd’s International Cinema Series, visit The campus is at 4200 54th Ave. S in St. Petersburg.

Schools offer free help with FAFSA form for college aid

The Pinellas County school district and St. Petersburg College are reminding college-bound students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. Colleges and universities use the application to determine whether students qualify for financial aid including grants, work-study programs, loans and scholarships. Federal financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so counselors advise submitting the FAFSA as soon as possible. Every year, millions of dollars in available student aid is never handed out because students don’t apply. Students can get information on how to apply and where to get help by contacting the district’s eCounselor service at or visiting In addition, the financial aid offices at SPC provide one-on-one assistance to all students and families, including those who don’t plan to attend the school. Students can stop in without an appointment at six SPC locations: St. Pete/Gibbs campus, 6605 Fifth Ave. N; Clearwater campus, 2465 Drew St.; Tarpon Springs campus, 600 E Klosterman Rd.; Seminole campus, 9200 113th St. N; the Midtown campus, 1300 22nd St. S in St. Petersburg and the downtown St. Petersburg campus at 244 Second Ave. N.

Elementary school lunches

Monday: Chicken sandwich, loaded beef and cheese nachos, fruit and yogurt plate, deli meat and cheese sandwich, baked beans, fresh veggie dippers.

Tuesday: Cheese sticks and toasted ravioli boat, corn dog or hot dog, chicken caesar salad, Jamwich Kit, steamed broccoli florets, marinara cup, romaine side salad.

Wednesday: Popcorn chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, rotini with meat sauce, yogurt and fruit parfait, ham and cheese croissant, corn niblets, sliced cucumbers.

Thursday: Chicken and waffle, cheese quesadillas, Apple-a-Day Salad, chicken caesar wrap, battered sweet potato fries, salsa cup, mixed side salad.

Friday: Pizza variety, fish sticks with roll or soft shell fish tacos, chef salad, turkey and cheese hoagie or sandwich, green beans, fresh veggie dippers.