Florida’s school reopening fight continues

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Students congregate on campus before the doors open during the first day of school for Pasco County Schools on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, at Gulf Middle School in New Port Richey.
Students congregate on campus before the doors open during the first day of school for Pasco County Schools on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, at Gulf Middle School in New Port Richey. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Sept. 30, 2020

The state Department of Education has not backed off its insistence that schools offer in-person classes to all students who want them, even if local district officials say they’re not ready to do so. Many observers expected leaders in Broward and Miami-Dade counties to put up the toughest resistance, but the state’s threats to hold up budget allocations to those that don’t fall in line has proven persuasive so far. The key remaining question is whether the courts will say the state had such authority or not — something that matters less now but will provide critical guidance for the future. Read on for the latest.

Did the state inappropriately force schools to reopen? An appellate court is getting closer to a ruling.

The battle is happening real time in south Florida. Facing financial threats if it delays a return to classroom instruction, the Miami-Dade County school district revised its plans to wait until mid October, the Miami Herald reports. • The Broward County School Board plans to meet to review its position, as well, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Teachers in both counties protested the state’s pressure, WPLG reports. More from WSVN.

Some Palm Beach County teachers sued to stop face-to-face classes in their district. A judge denied their effort, WPTV reports. More from the Sun-Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post. • Since the schools opened, rich white Palm Beach County students have filled their campuses, while poor minority children are largely staying home, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Worries continue over coronavirus cases spreading through schools. The state will distribute millions of virus testing kits, prioritized for students and seniors. • Meanwhile, it launched its long-awaited dashboard to detail the number of infections, WTSP reports. You can see the chart here. It already has come under fire, including from the state’s one-time case counter. • More than 1,000 people have been quarantined from Manatee County schools, the Bradenton Herald reports. • Two Florida members of Congress are calling for the release of school virus cases nationally, Florida Politics reports. • More from the Miami Herald.

School budgets look bleak. Polk County district officials pledged not to cut people or pay through at least December, the Ledger reports. But “the worst is yet to come,” the school board’s chairwoman said. • The Alachua County school district has asked for more CARES Act money to help cover budget shortfalls, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Take me out to the ballgame. Collier County high schools expand the number of fans allowed in the stands for football games, the Naples Daily News reports. The district’s athletic director said the schools are “getting back to normalcy.”

They’re still hungry. The Leon County school district has resumed delivery of free meals to children learning from home, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Zoom bombing can carry consequences. The Broward County school district and law enforcement are investigating a vile, racist interruption of a high school’s online class, WSVN reports.

Students are staying home for a reason. Their parents aren’t happy that schools are requiring children to come to campus to take state makeup exams, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Teaching during a pandemic can be stressful. Volusia County third-grade teacher Kimberly Sheppard overcomes the hurdles to inspire confidence in her students, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Schools haven’t lifted their mask requirements. The Orange County School Board is looking at revisions to rules about where and when to wear them, WFTV reports.

Freedom of expression has its limits. Duval County’s school superintendent is preparing to amend district rules relating to the display of flags and banners at school-sponsored events, WJXT reports.

The Lee County school district shut down a new charter school after 12 days of operation. The charter’s operators are fighting for reinstatement, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

Another district can’t meet the salary mark. Seminole County came up short of $47,500 for its base pay rate during negotiations, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Medical marijuana is allowed, except when it isn’t. A former Marion County school administrator faces possible termination after testing positive for marijuana, which had been prescribed to him, WUFT reports.

What’s in a name? Polk County’s new high school will carry the name of the town where it’s located, the Ledger reports.

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

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