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Florida schools keep mask mandates, as some parents fight back

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

In announcing thousands of students would return to campuses next quarter, Pinellas County school district officials said one reason it was possible was schools' careful adherence to safety protocols. Masks have played a critical role in keeping the virus at bay, the district’s medical advisers said. Some parents have been trying to get that requirement overturned, with little result. Similar debates are occurring across Florida. Read on for the latest.

The masks stay longer. The Pinellas County School Board extended the district’s mask mandate, over the objections of several parents who argued masks are unnecessary and harmful. • An anti-mask group has raised $11,000 to hire a lawyer to fight the Sarasota County school district’s rule, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Public comment lasted so long over the Indian River County school district’s proposal to end its mask requirement that the board delayed its decision, WBPF reports. • The Orange County School Board updated its mask policy, detailing when people don’t have to wear one, WKMG reports. • The Bay County school district banned masks with vents, saying other options exist, WJHG reports.

Looking for local COVID cases in schools? The Lee County school district decided to stop counting, directing residents to a state database instead, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. • Broward County schools began reporting cases soon after campuses reopened Friday, the Sun-Sentinel reports. More than 40 cases have been confirmed, WSVN reports.

Districts are making it easier for students to come back to classrooms. The Escambia County system announced all remote students could return to campus with the next quarter, the Pensacola News Journal reports. Officials expect about 10 percent to do so.

The computers are coming. About $10 million of devices the Leon County school district ordered this summer to support online instruction are now on their way, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

This Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 file photo shows the west exterior of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at University of Florida, in Gainesville, Fla. The University of Florida has suspended two fraternities because of COVID-19 protocol violations.
This Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 file photo shows the west exterior of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at University of Florida, in Gainesville, Fla. The University of Florida has suspended two fraternities because of COVID-19 protocol violations. [ JOHN RAOUX | Associated Press ]

College campuses are still tough on violators. The University of Florida suspended two fraternities amid violations of the school’s COVID-19 behavior rules, the Gainesville Sun reports. • The Gators football team suspended activities after five positive virus cases in the program.

After months under the State Board of Education, Florida Virtual School is getting a separate set of trustees. Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed four members, leaving three seats still unfilled, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The Okaloosa County school district removed a novel about racism from one high school’s curriculum. Some residents pushed back, saying the time is right for students to be discussing such matters, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

From the campaign trail ... The race for three open seats on the Miami-Dade County School Board is getting attention as Election Day nears, WLRN reports. • Much of the revenue from a proposed Duval County school district sales tax would go to campuses in the lowest-income areas of the city, WJXT reports. • The Brevard County school district condemned the campaign of state Rep. Randy Fine for using its logo without permission, Florida Today reports. • The Alachua County school district is asking voters to renew a local-option property tax to support general operations, Alachua Today reports.

Consolidation hurts. The University of South Florida St. Petersburg is feeling the pains of forced consolidation, and city leaders are seeking relief.

What makes a good superintendent? The Polk County School Board has asked for public input as it seeks its next chief executive, WFTS reports.

Districts continue to approve teacher pay raises. The Leon County school district will boost its base salary to $43,304, up from $37,500, WTXL reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... The Tampa Bay Times has a new text service to bring you the latest in politics and policy news, including information about school board and other elections. It’s easy to sign up. Just text “context” to (813) 212-2598 or click here and enter your number. It sounds kind of interesting. Check it out and let us know if you like it.

Vote, get your cool sticker and, oh yeah, have some say in the world.  [Times (2012)]
Vote, get your cool sticker and, oh yeah, have some say in the world. [Times (2012)]

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