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Expanded summer school awaits Florida students who struggled

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
A soon-to-be fifth grader completes his work during an English Language Arts class on the first day of a past Summer Bridge program at Maximo Elementary School. School districts across Florida are preparing expanded summer offerings in 2021.
A soon-to-be fifth grader completes his work during an English Language Arts class on the first day of a past Summer Bridge program at Maximo Elementary School. School districts across Florida are preparing expanded summer offerings in 2021. [ DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published May 17
Updated May 17

The school year is entering its final weeks, with children taking their last round of tests to determine whether they’ve fallen behind because of the pandemic. Educators already have some ideas of where their students stand, having collected plenty of assessment data all year long. They’re hoping those who have experienced the greatest learning disruptions will head to summer school. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

Many youngsters struggled to keep pace this past year. In Tampa area schools, math turned out to be the rough spot. • About half of Miami-Dade County children in prekindergarten through third grade were behind grade level in reading and math, the Miami Herald reports. • Broward County schools have seen an increase in students with one or more failing grades. Some teachers are calling for some to be retained, Caribbean National Weekly reports.

Districts are expanding summer school offerings to help overcome the shortfalls. Experts warn the programs cannot simply be more of the same.

Coronavirus concerns

About that CDC advice that masks aren’t needed if you’re fully vaccinated ... The agency recommended that schools retain their mask mandates through the end of the current academic year, Bloomberg reports.

Some school districts are holding the line. Alachua County schools announced they will keep their rule intact for now, the Gainesville Sun reports. • Leon County schools also decided to require masks through the semester, WTXL reports. • St. Johns County schools said they will stop using masks and desk shields in June, WJXT reports. • Central Florida school districts are preparing for the fall, Spectrum 13 reports.

Some have taken steps away from the most stringent pandemic protocols. Fully vaccinated students and staff in Sarasota County schools no longer will have to quarantine if exposed to a positive case, the Herald-Tribune reports.

That’s the law

Lawmakers added accountability measures to Florida’s prekindergarten program. Many Treasure Coast parents are okay with the changes, TC Palm reports.

Florida’s new law restricting restraint and seclusion of students with special needs has an extra provision for Broward County. It allows parents to request video cameras be installed and operated in their children’s ESE classrooms, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

The Legislature didn’t require tax rate rollbacks for 2021-22. But school districts face plenty of added costs to eat up the extra revenue, the Ledger reports.

Florida college athletes will be allowed to make money off their name, image and likeness starting July 1. Everyone’s trying to figure out how that will work.

School news

Florida doesn’t need a new education commissioner. On the candidate short list for FSU’s president post, commissioner Richard Corcoran didn’t make the finalist cut.

Let’s make a deal. Most Polk County teachers and staff will get a raise or bonus under a new tentative contract agreement, the Ledger reports.

How’s this for a helping hand? The St. Joe Foundation has donated $1 million to education in Bay and Walton counties this year, the Panama City News Herald reports.

R.I.P. Former longtime Florida education commissioner Ralph Turlington died at age 100, the Associated Press reports.

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