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Graduation day is almost here. How will Florida seniors celebrate?

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Pinellas County high school graduations had no speeches or handshakes in 2020, but graduates got to parade in their caps and gowns, hear their names called and pose for photos at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. Schools and universities are reviewing whether the same type of approach will be needed this spring.
Pinellas County high school graduations had no speeches or handshakes in 2020, but graduates got to parade in their caps and gowns, hear their names called and pose for photos at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. Schools and universities are reviewing whether the same type of approach will be needed this spring. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Mar. 12, 2021|Updated Mar. 12, 2021

It’s getting to be that time of year when students preparing to graduate begin to plan their celebrations. It’s not so easy during the pandemic, when schools have to consider health issues that could upend activities. The Hillsborough County school district this week told high school seniors and their families about how graduation will work, and sent out a list of approved other events. Many other schools and universities are assessing their options. Some aren’t so popular. Read on for the latest on that story and other Florida education news.

The University of Tampa planned a virtual graduation ceremony in May. Upset students are preparing an in-person counter-event instead, Axios reports. The university is not supporting the activity.

Other coronavirus concerns

Suddenly, options. Polk County teachers have plenty of opportunities to get vaccinated, including the school district’s first clinic, the Ledger reports.

Kids need a summer break. The St. Johns County school district decided to push back its first day of classes in August by six days, the St. Augustine Record reports.

Waive the testing consequences. The Escambia County School Board is the latest to urge state officials to cancel the accountability measures attached to annual spring exams, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

How to further limit the spread of coronavirus in the schools? A new University of Florida study calls for virus testing of students who have been quarantined if they return to classes before being out 14 days, WJXT reports.

Student rights

The Brevard County school district’s new anti-discrimination guidelines have gained attention in the Legislature. State Rep. Randy Fine, who represents the county, said he will fight some of the rules offering accommodations to LGBTQ students, WOFL reports. • Two bills have been filed to limit transgender students’ participation in school sports, WESH reports.

“It plagues our nation, our state and our schools.” Data from Central Florida schools show Black students are disciplined at significantly disproportionate rates, Spectrum 13 reports. • More on a new report on the discipline of Black girls from the Florida Times-Union.

Tallahassee action

New legislation would end non-medical exemptions to school-required vaccinations. Pediatricians have put their support behind the measure, WTFX reports.

The bill aiming to scale back Bright Futures scholarships and other forms of financial aid is back on track. It’s on the Senate Education Committee’s Tuesday agenda. Senate president Wilton Simpson said he wants to see the money more directly tied to job-connected degrees.

Some lawmakers want to have parents approve their children’s participation in sex ed. The current rules have them opt out, WFTX reports.

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What’s happening today? The House Secondary Education subcommittee will take up bills relating to school board term limits and student restraint and seclusion when it meets at 9:30 a.m.

In other school news

Some Orange County school district officials had concerns about a new charter school operator. In the end, they approved the group’s application to open a school near D-rated Wheatley Elementary, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

“It doesn’t get much better than that.” Charlotte County superintendent Steve Dionisio got a rave performance evaluation and a contract extension, the Charlotte Sun reports.

Santa Rosa County is getting a new K-8 school. It will affect students in six other schools, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Missed a story? Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

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