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Courts might decide what Florida’s school reopening looks like

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

Anyone expecting Florida’s back-to-school debate to be decided in court got a preview Wednesday, as lawyers for the two sides offered up some choice words about the state’s emergency reopening order during a scheduling hearing. But there were no fireworks as they worked to set times for the main event, which begins today with an hour set aside to discuss whether the case belongs in Miami-Dade County. State officials want to move it to Leon County. Time is of the essence, attorneys for the Florida Education Association said, with life and death decisions on the line and some schools prepared to resume next week. Read on for that and more Florida education news.

‘We believe (the order) was issued in violation of the Florida constitution.’ That argument is one of many that could be decided in court, with hearings starting at 11 a.m. today. Some observers had hoped for some action sooner.

School reopening plans still have so many unknowns. Parents, teachers and students are still trying to figure out what classes will look like. • Some Lee County students took a trial run Wednesday to see how things might run, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

One big concern: What will happen if a positive COVID-19 case pops up in a school? A Hillsborough County school already is being accused of not disclosing a case appropriately to its staff.

The online-only push continues on several fronts. University of South Florida faculty have joined the call to keep classrooms closed longer. • The Hillsborough County School Board is set to revisit that concept when it meets at 9:30 a.m. today. Here’s the agenda. • The Alachua County School Board is reconsidering its reopening approach after hearing from more employees and parents, the Gainesville Sun reports. • In Hendry County, leaders already have decided to conduct all classes remotely at first, WINK reports. “My gut reaction was I do not want a decision that I make to cost somebody their life,” superintendent Paul Puletti said.

Pasco County teachers Kaitlyn Geddes  and Kevin Knibbs work on creating engaging lessons during a planning session before classes begin for 2019-20.
Pasco County teachers Kaitlyn Geddes and Kevin Knibbs work on creating engaging lessons during a planning session before classes begin for 2019-20. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times Staff Writer ]

Take a break. The Flagler County school district has added two teacher planning days without students, after realizing it hadn’t included any when shifting its start date, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Support is mounting for a late August start to fall high school sports. But a committee of athletic directors is pressing for a delay until November, the Sun-Sentinel reports. A decision from the FHSAA is expected on Aug. 14.

How safe is it to return to schools? The Broward County school district evacuated its headquarters for the second time in a week because of a COVID-19 case, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Broward officials don’t plan for a quick reopening of campuses, even if virus cases start to decline, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • The number of virus cases among Okaloosa County children has risen to 224, compared to six in late May, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

Hear the students. They have much to say about returning to school during COVID-19, the Florida Times-Union reports.

If you come back, you’d better follow those mask and distancing rules. In Leon County schools, a violation could lead to disciplinary action, whether you’re a student or an employee, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

So, ‘Mask up!’ Manatee County school and other officials are teaming up to encourage residents to help get campuses, businesses and other entities fully open, the Bradenton Herald reports.

She offers a trusted voice. Veteran Monroe County educator Theresa Axford takes over as superintendent while the district prepares for an online-only return to classes, WLRN reports.

The effort is supposed to be to remove Confederate names. Some Orange County residents say their attempt to rename Stonewall Jackson Middle after Roberto Clemente is being, well, stonewalled, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

From the courts ... A Marion County educator is fighting his termination for medical marijuana use, WUFT reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is still available.

Before you go ... Admit it. You laughed when Bill and Ted time traveled to complete their history assignment all those years ago. Now they’re back again, and, hey, who couldn’t use a little mindless entertainment during all this heavy duty pandemic action? So today, I share the trailer, with the reminder to be excellent to one another.