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School masks remain, despite parent protests

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
A group of parents has been pressuring the Pinellas County School Board to end its mask mandate for several months.
A group of parents has been pressuring the Pinellas County School Board to end its mask mandate for several months. [ Pinellas County Schools ]
Published Apr. 14
Updated Apr. 14

The debate over whether schools should maintain their mask requirements continues in Florida, this time in Pinellas County. The School Board heard from dozens of parents and children who demanded the district “let our children breathe” — or at the very least provide choice in the matter. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

Pinellas district officials announced they’ll keep their mask mandate in place for the time being. They’re taking the advice of local medical professionals. They did thank the parents who spoke at their meeting for taking the time to come.

It’s not the only district facing the mask question. Indian River County’s superintendent will develop a plan to outline steps for moving away from masks, TC Palm reports. • Masks became the issue of the night at a Sarasota County school district town hall meeting, with most parents opposing the requirement, the Venice Gondolier reports.

Hillsborough budget woes

Hundreds of job cuts are coming to Hillsborough County schools. The district administration and School Board heard a heavy dose of criticism over the moves.

The teacher departures could make charter schools more attractive to some families. Hillsborough board members continued to push back against the expansion of charters in the county.

More coronavirus concerns

The push continues to get children back in schools. The Miami-Dade County school district was the latest to announce its plan to resume a traditional in-person school model for the fall, WTVJ reports.

Some Broward County students aren’t ready to return to in-person classes in the fall. They still have some remote options, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Volusia County sixth graders didn’t get their sex education lessons this year. Blame the pandemic, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Tallahassee action

A controversial transgender student-athlete bill is ready for a final House vote. Democrats failed to water down the measure with 19 amendments, Florida Politics reports.

The House also teed up a measure to permit unedited remarks over the loudspeakers at high school championship athletic tournaments. Members said it’s not about prayer, but the issue is tied to a private religious school’s lawsuit over being blocked from offering a prayer before a state football championship game, the News Service of Florida reports. A Senate version hasn’t moved.

Legislation to allow concealed weapons at religious institutions with schools attached continues to advance. Debate centers on whether it’s a property rights issue, or one of school safety, WTSP reports.

A bill to alter Bright Futures scholarships remains under consideration in the Senate. It has changed significantly from its original form, but still concerns many students, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The Senate Rules Committee will take up bills on moments of silence in schools, transgender student-athlete participation, and the impact of COVID-19 in schools, when it meets at 9 a.m. • The full House convenes at 2 p.m. In addition to the bills mentioned above, it has an item on restraint and seclusion up for final consideration.

Other school news

It’s a double standard. Students and parents continue to push for changes in the St. Johns County school district’s dress code, WTLV reports.

Lee County schools have placed up posters supporting LGBTQ students. Some parents complained, WINK reports.

Prekindergarten is a priority. Bay County school district leaders say it’s key to academic success, the Panama City News Herald reports.

Rebuilding a school. The Lee County school district plans to raze and rebuild an elementary school to improve the campus and add an on-site community service center, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

The Osceola County school district has been exploring ideas to reform campus security. An advisory committee is recommending body cameras on all resource officers, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

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

Before you go ... Pasco County college student Alanis Sophia fell short in her American Idol bid. Here’s her final performance.