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Few school districts commit to ending mask mandates

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Ms. Euda Toural-Romero, a Spanish teacher, leads her students in a lesson using a digital board, at Excelsior Prep Charter School on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 in Tampa.
Ms. Euda Toural-Romero, a Spanish teacher, leads her students in a lesson using a digital board, at Excelsior Prep Charter School on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 in Tampa. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Apr. 16
Updated Apr. 19

Mask requirements remained a flashpoint for Florida school districts for yet another day, as superintendents across the state reacted to education commissioner Richard Corcoran’s letter suggesting a course of action for the coming academic year. Many responded to the missive, which also was sent to charter schools, with caution. At least one didn’t hold back. Read on for the latest on this story and other Florida education news.

Commissioner Corcoran called on school districts to end their mask mandates in the fall. Tampa area district leaders wouldn’t commit to meeting that request. • Leon County’s superintendent didn’t take the idea well, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. • Manatee County School Board members planned to review their rule at the end of April, the Bradenton Herald reports. • Polk County school officials said they would review their options over the summer, the Ledger reports. • Palm Beach County school district leaders had no plan to change their requirements, the Palm Beach Post reports. • Miami-Dade and Broward officials said they’ll stick with the CDC guidelines, WFOR reports. • Treasure Coast districts expected to watch and wait, too, TC Palm reports.

Meanwhile, more districts made preparations to have more students on campus next fall. The Hernando County school district announced it will end its Digital Home Learning program, the Hernando Sun reports. • Volusia County families got the word Thursday that their remote-online learning option would be gone after the current semester, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Tallahassee action

Legislation to place more requirements on union membership sparked heated conversation. The measure would affect teachers, but not law enforcement or firefighters, Florida Politics reports.

A bill aimed at giving parents more control over sex education advanced in the House. But only after the Education Committee removed the most controversial part, which would have required parents to opt their children in to receive the lessons, Florida Politics reports.

Lawmakers continued to push for changes in civics education. A proposal to require the teaching of comparative political ideologies won approval at its final Senate committee stop, Florida Politics reports.

A proposal to stop paying school board members fell by the wayside in the Florida House. Members revived an attempt to impose term limits instead, Florida Politics reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The House Appropriations Committee meets at 8:30 a.m., where it will consider legislation governing the age at which a child may be arrested. • The Senate Rules Committee convenes at 9 a.m. with a lengthy agenda of bills, including one on water safety instruction for K-12 schools.

Growth issues

The University of South Florida has plans to develop forested land just north of its Tampa campus. Students and faculty who study the environment there quickly raised objections. Their petition has gathered thousands of signatures in opposition to the move.

The St. Johns County school district is building its ninth high school. District leaders have started looking at how to redraw attendance zones to ease crowding, the St. Augustine Record reports.

Other school news

Is it time to rethink Florida’s school funding model? The Jacksonville Public Education Fund has called for a revamp of the formula, WTLV reports.

What’s in a name? A Manatee County school that has been called Lincoln Middle and Lincoln Memorial Academy needs a new name as it changes its status with the state. The school district is seeking suggestions, WWSB reports. • The Bay County school district is considering rebranding Oscar Patterson Elementary when it reopens, WMBB reports.

Change the code. A Charlotte County School Board member proposed revising the district dress code, which she said unfairly singles out the clothing of girls and women, the Charlotte Sun reports.

The Broward County school district recently had its computer systems hacked, receiving a $40 million ransom request. Officials are now contemplating spending $20 million for upgrades to ward off future attacks, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Let’s make a deal. All Broward County teachers would get a one-time bonus under a tentative agreement reached during bargaining, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

A Citrus County charter school board rejected its first slate of applicants to become principal. One more candidate has put in for the job, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

School Board member seats are nonpartisan. An Escambia County board member is suing the state over a fine he received for telling voters he was a Republican while seeking election, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

‘I am confident our students will earn those points.’ An Escambia County middle school has high confidence its student test scores will lift it off the state’s watch list, WEAR reports.

Please come teach here. The Lake County school district offers incentives up to $27,000 for top performing teachers to come and stay at two persistently struggling schools, WOFL reports.

The Palm Beach County school district’s police chief is resigning. His decision comes during tense times with the officers’ union, the Palm Beach Post reports.

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

Before you go ... On Thursday, all the players in Major League Baseball wore 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, who led the way in integrating the sport. Can’t help thinking about this scene from the bio-pic starring the late Chadwick Boseman.