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Coronavirus generates school concern, but makes a great research topic

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
The sanitation station in the entrance of Tara Ruggiero's kindergarten classroom at Macfarlane Park IB Elementary. Schools are working to keep students healthy and away from the coronavirus.
The sanitation station in the entrance of Tara Ruggiero's kindergarten classroom at Macfarlane Park IB Elementary. Schools are working to keep students healthy and away from the coronavirus. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Sept. 3, 2020|Updated Sept. 3, 2020

The school coronavirus counters appear to have a steady job these days, as cases mount and — at least in some counties — officials keep debating whether to release the information to the public. But there’s another side to the virus that is getting a bit more attention: The university research aspect keeps growing as people seek more information about the illness. The politics of the pandemic make for good fodder, too. Read on for the latest.

COVID-19 means scientific opportunities for the University of South Florida. Its pandemic research center nabbed another 14 projects, pushing it over $1 million of funding to study the illness.

Are you keeping track of cases in your area? Tampa Bay area schools have reported 51 of them since classes resumed. • The Volusia County school district reversed course to begin publishing numbers twice a week, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • Duval County residents remain in the dark about cases in their schools, the Florida Times-Union reports. • Some Polk County parents are growing upset with quarantine issues in their schools, the Ledger reports. • Sarasota County schools are opening two testing sites, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Seminole County schools are relying on seating charts to help with contact tracing, WKMG reports.

Some families aren’t ready if schools close again. The Marion County NAACP is working with local businesses and churches to prepare virtual learning camps for children whose parents need to work, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

There’s always the possibility of a learning pod. Teachers and families that can find a way to make it work are doing so, the Washington Post reports.

Palm Beach County schools are preparing for their eventual return to classrooms. District officials are trying to figure out how to deal with employees who say they’re not comfortable working in the buildings, WPTV reports. • School Board members blasted the superintendent for not doing more to help high-risk employees, the Palm Beach Post reports. • The superintendent tried to convince the county commission to postpone moving to Phase 2 by a week, without success, the Post reports.

Jill Biden says her husband would have done better handling the pandemic. She made a virtual visit to Pasco-Hernando State College students to talk education politics.

Students are be greeted by visual reminders like this one, in Pinellas County, to stay socially distant in school.
Students are be greeted by visual reminders like this one, in Pinellas County, to stay socially distant in school. [ Pinellas County Schools ]

Zoom bombing. It’s still happening, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

My School Online bombs. Miami-Dade County’s online platform faces continued problems for a third day, as criticism mounted over the no-bid contract for the services, the Miami Herald reports. More from WLRN.

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Sanitary schools are key to keeping everyone healthy. The Volusia County teachers union called for the firing of the district’s custodial company after learning custodians at one school used toilet water to clean classrooms, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Florida schools have about twice as many police officers in them as before the Parkland shooting. Some students say it’s time for them to go, WLRN reports. • An ACLU study contends that Florida’s school policing rules hurt students, WTSP reports. • Other groups say schools should not lose sight of security as they cope with coronavirus, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

The University of Florida dumped its ’Gator Bait’ cheer earlier this year. A past alumni association president, who’s also the great-grandson of slaves, convinced officials to eliminate the offensive motto.

‘Someone come get the monkeys.’ A Leon County assistant principal’s social media commentary gets her reassigned, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

The Sarasota County school district brought in a speaker to help evaluate its approach to cultural sensitivity. New superintendent Brennan Asplen temporarily pulled the plug after receiving several complaints about the first presentation, the Herald-Tribune reports.

And then there were five. The Martin County School Board selects finalists for its superintendent post, including Pasco County career-technical director Lori Romano, TC Palm reports.

‘He will be working.’ Volusia County superintendent Scott Fritz aims to return to work in two weeks, while he continues receiving cancer treatment, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Missed a story? Maybe you can find it in yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... What’s the education jargon that bugs you the most these days? Is it “synchronous learning”? Maybe just the overused “rigor”? The We Are Teachers website offers 15 terms it suggests we’d be better off without. Compare their list to yours. How do they match up?

The We Are Teachers website used this meme to illustrate its frustration with some of the latest education jargon in use.
The We Are Teachers website used this meme to illustrate its frustration with some of the latest education jargon in use. [ We Are Teachers website ]