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Party on: Gov. DeSantis says colleges should ease up, as cases mount

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

Seniors in the Class of 2020 thought they had it bad, losing out on the final quarter of the year and all the events they looked forward to. Things don’t look much brighter for the next group of graduates. Universities already have announced they won’t be holding fall commencement ceremonies. Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed rules so college students can have their fun. Read on for the latest.

Hope you didn’t make big plans. Florida’s state universities announced they’ll be making alternate arrangements for fall semester graduations. • FAMU and FSU are considering canceling spring break, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

College campuses have become coronavirus hotspots. The University of Tampa has case numbers that might seem in line for larger schools. • Meanwhile, the University of Florida is pushing to have more in-person classes in the second semester, the Gainesville Sun reports. • Out-of-state students who wanted to attend remotely were required to live on or near campus to receive their full-tuition Benaquisto Scholarships, the Independent Alligator reports. • Gov. Ron DeSantis called for protections for college kids who like to party, as some schools have suspended students for violating social distancing and other safety rules, Politico Florida reports. • The latest example: Florida Gulf Coast University suspended a sorority for hosting an event that went against the school’s protocols, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. Florida Gulf Coast students are required to fill out a health screening app daily, the News-Press reports. Officials are checking.

K-12 schools continue to look for “missing” students. Pasco County campuses have seen enrollment shifts to virtual and charter schools. • The number of students using state Empowerment Scholarships to attend private schools has grown by thousands, the News Service of Florida reports.

Desks are spaced out in Tara Ruggiero's kindergarten classroom at Macfarlane Park IB Elementary.
Desks are spaced out in Tara Ruggiero's kindergarten classroom at Macfarlane Park IB Elementary. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

South Florida districts plan to reopen their doors in mid-October. Charter Schools USA is jumping in earlier with in-person classes at its campuses, WFOR reports.

When should schools close because of coronavirus cases? Brevard County district officials said they make decisions based on ‘situations’ rather than metrics, Florida Today reports. • The Collier County school district is not releasing numbers of students and staff quarantined because of exposure to people who tested positive, the Naples Daily News reports. • The Palm Beach County school district’s dashboard was wrong on its first day, the Palm Beach Post reports.

If it’s second quarter, it’s time to blow up that master schedule. Volusia County high school students will get new schedules for the second nine weeks, as their district dumps its unpopular hybrid classes that mix online and in-person students, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • Leon County School Board members had reservations about opening their district’s classrooms to more students at the nine-week mark, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. • An additional 4,500 Seminole County students plan to return to in-person learning for the second quarter, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

If you’re wondering why Palm Beach County teachers are upset about school reopening ... The School Board gave itself protective shields at meetings, but teachers in classrooms got none, the Palm Beach Post reports. They’re on order.

Let the music play. Music teachers are finding new ways to teach their lessons to limit the spread of the coronavirus, WUSF reports.

Change the name already. A national Native American rights group reiterates its stance against “Native-themed mascots” as a Brevard County school debates whether to retire its Indian nickname, Florida Today reports.

This month-old charter school needs a new principal. The St. Lucie County campus founders and the former leader have different views about why changes came at the top, TC Palm reports.

Reduce, reuse, recycle. That’s the environmental lesson students learn in school, and several Sarasota County teens have taken it to heart. They’re urging their county government to commit to renewable energy sources, the Herald-Tribune reports.

From the court docket ... Families of victims in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting massacre lost their court battle to exceed state monetary limits in their lawsuits against the Broward County school district, the News Service of Florida reports. • A former Volusia County high school principal who retired amid an investigation into giving fake AP exams to students has sued the district, claiming it violated her contract, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

The state wants to fast-track investigations into teachers accused of misconduct with students. The Florida Board of Education amended its rules to add more categories to the list that demands immediate reporting, Fresh Take Florida reports.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s the link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... For some reason, the Hillsborough County Commission approved backyard chickens for homeowners in unincorporated areas. Perhaps the fresh eggs make up for the potential smell and the increase in predators. At least crowing roosters are prohibited. Want to try it? Here’s an LA Times 2008 video on raising chickens in the city. Enjoy your new pets?