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Classrooms are open. Will at-home choices remain for Florida families?

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

As the debate over the state’s school reopening continues, with particular focus on south Florida, the courts have added another new wrinkle. Overturning a trial judge’s ruling that the state government overstepped its bounds in ordering campuses to offer in-person classes, the 1st District Court of Appeal found the trial court had gone too far. The case is far from over, but the final outcome will have its effect in future crises. On Friday, the final school system in Florida opened its doors. Now some parents are wondering when their at-home options will disappear. Read on for the latest.

The appellate court ruled that the issue of school reopening is political, not judicial. The plaintiffs quickly announced plans to seek a rehearing, and to appeal if necessary.

Broward County became the final district to resume in-person classes. Its efforts continue to yield criticisms — the latest is that municipalities haven’t been able to restart school zone signals for drivers, the Miami Herald reports. • Another concern: Mold took hold in many classrooms while the campuses were closed, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Only about a quarter of students returned, WLRN reports.

Politics aside, many parents still don’t feel safe sending their kids back. Many are choosing other options that better meet their needs during a time of uncertainty, the Associated Press reports.

Not everyone had concerns. “I feel like I can trust my kids to not mess up with the masks and jump and hug their friends,” a Miami-Dade County parent told the Miami Herald. • About 4,500 students plan to return to Seminole County classrooms for the new quarter, WFTV reports.

How long will everyone have these choices? It depends on the Department of Education extending its order allowing them. • The Manatee County system is looking into scaling back, the Bradenton Herald reports. More from the Herald-Tribune.

Online lessons aren’t working for everyone. Two-thirds of Volusia County middle and high school students taking remote classes have at least one D or F, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. The district plans to require them to return to campuses.

Natalya Burlakova and her son Ivan Zavaleta, 6, see his first grade class while eLearning in their Lithia home as he and other Hillsborough County students begin the first day of school virtually on Monday, August 24, 2020.
Natalya Burlakova and her son Ivan Zavaleta, 6, see his first grade class while eLearning in their Lithia home as he and other Hillsborough County students begin the first day of school virtually on Monday, August 24, 2020. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

It’s just a precaution. Hillsborough County superintendent Addison Davis has quarantined after coming in contact with a person who tested positive. • Dozens of new cases were reported in Tampa Bay area schools.

The pandemic is causing problems for high school seniors. Gaining access to SAT and ACT tests is spotty for many, while state universities still require scores, the Independent Alligator reports.

Substitute teachers have become hard to find. The Sarasota County school district has reduced its credential requirements to help fill the spots, the Herald-Tribune reports.

So too, apparently, are school bus seats. A Miami-Dade County teen was turned away from his bus ride home because there wasn’t enough room to social distance, WSVN reports.

From the campaign trail ... Four Hillsborough County School Board seats are up for election in November. The incumbents face stiff challenges as their district encounters financial and other problems. • Learn more about candidates for Tampa Bay area races in the Tampa Bay Times Know Your Candidates section.

Teachers are still negotiating their raises. Collier County union leaders said they had a “good deal” after boosting starting pay to $47,720, the Naples Daily News reports. • Martin County’s lowest paid teachers would get $6,000 raises, with a base wage just under $45,000, WPTV reports.

AN ACLU report raised questions about the value of having police in schools. The chief of police for Sarasota County schools challenged the findings, the Sun reports.

Sometimes kids skip school because they have nothing to wear. A Clay County high school is opening a laundry center and clothing exchange to help its students and the surrounding community with this basic need, WJXT reports.

Schools seek to improve their diversity. The Miami-Dade district is among about 20 nationally ready to join an initiative aimed at promoting racial and economic integration of schools, Chalkbeat reports.

From the police blotter ... A Duval County high school student was arrested for possession of a weapon on campus, after another student was shot in the arm, WJXT reports.

Before you go ... Hispanic Heritage Month is nearing an end. The BuzzFeed project Pero Like has shared a seemingly simple challenge for you: Match these Latin American nations to their flags. Can you do it?

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