Schools react to advice that masks aren’t needed once vaccinated

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Ethan Genna, 12, of Millburn, N.J., gets his shot. More teenagers now may get the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, paving the way for possible changes in the way schools operate moving forward.
Ethan Genna, 12, of Millburn, N.J., gets his shot. More teenagers now may get the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, paving the way for possible changes in the way schools operate moving forward.
Published May 14, 2021|Updated May 14, 2021

Fresh news on the COVID-19 front likely will have a big effect on how schools operate going forward. Read on for the latest, plus more Florida education news.

Two key shifts came on how we deal with the pandemic. The CDC okayed Pfizer vaccines for children 12 to 15 years old. Some schools and other locations began making them available almost right away. Meanwhile, the agency also announced that fully vaccinated people should not have to wear masks, indoors or out, or even need to social distance.

So what does that mean for schools? The Hillsborough County school district quickly sent a message to parents saying its rules will remain in effect for now. But changes might come soon. “The School Board will discuss the use of face coverings for the 2021-22 school year at its upcoming meeting next Tuesday, May 18,” the email stated. “In addition, it is likely the Board will discuss this new CDC guidance and the impact it may have on the current school year.”

Other districts took steps, too. The previously reluctant Palm Beach County school district declared it will lift its mask requirement for the next academic year, so long as conditions do not deteriorate, the Palm Beach Post reports. • The Diocese of Palm Beach took a similar step for its schools, WPTV reports. • The Miami-Dade County school district began offering vaccines on select campuses for students, WTVJ reports. • Lake County schools plan to make the shots available to students next week, the Associated Press reports.

One county, two views on masks. Two Santa Rosa County moms explain their differing perspectives on school mask requirements, CNN reports.

The Florida Education Association eased slightly on its stance. “We’re very excited to resume some sense of normalcy,” president Andrew Spar told WKMG. • The president of the American Federation of Teachers called for a national reopening of schools in the fall, saying conditions have changed, the Associated Press reports.

More coronavirus concerns

Concerns remain that many children suffered learning losses during the pandemic. Brevard County schools and community groups are working on programs to help catch them up over the summer, Florida Today reports.

It was a ‘weird’ senior year. Students in central Florida’s Class of 2021 look forward to an almost normal graduation and life beyond, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The pandemic changed the way school boards operate. Boards in Florida and elsewhere expect to continue the model, which allowed for more public interaction, Next City reports.

Race relations

Diversity is decreasing in Florida schools. In most instances, the schools reflect their surrounding communities, WFTX reports.

Students and staff at a Monroe County school will receive cultural sensitivity training. The decision comes after officials confirmed allegations of racism against two children, the Florida Keys Weekly reports.

School news

The Pensacola girl accused of hacking the results of her homecoming court election remains the talk of the town. Her lawyer said the family is considering a lawsuit against the school district over the way the girl’s yearbook photo was handled, WJXT reports.

Volusia County school bus drivers wanted spring break to coincide with Bike Week because of traffic concerns. The School Board declined to change its calendar, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

The Manatee County School Board plans to ask voters to renew its local-option property tax. The County Commission asked the board to wait until the August 2022 primary, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Be nice to animals. An Indian River County high school teacher is under investigation for mistreating a reptile on campus, TC Palm reports.

There’s plenty of talk about education commissioner Richard Corcoran seeking the FSU presidency. Questions have arisen surrounding a potential conflict because Corcoran sits on the state Board of Governors, the News Service of Florida reports. • Meanwhile, did you notice only one woman and one Black person made the finalist list? Florida Phoenix reports.

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

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