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School mask protests continue across Florida

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
An unidentified, anti-mask protester was escorted out of a Hillsborough County School Board retreat on May 4. More are protests are expected as the school year winds down.
An unidentified, anti-mask protester was escorted out of a Hillsborough County School Board retreat on May 4. More are protests are expected as the school year winds down. [ Times ]
Published May 18
Updated May 18

Two weeks. That’s about all the time remaining for the current school year in most Florida districts. For some, it’s not enough time to change directions when it comes to coronavirus protocols. For others, it’s too long to stick with them. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

The mask debate continues. Sarasota County School Board members will again debate whether to loosen their mask requirements before classes end, the Herald-Tribune reports. • St. Johns County schools will end their mask mandate effective June 14, the St. Augustine Record reports. • Nassau County parents are planning a mask protest before their next School Board meeting, WJXT reports. • Pushback continues to mount among Manatee County students and parents, WFLA reports. • The issue appears on today’s Hillsborough County School Board agenda, and speakers are expected at the 4 p.m. meeting. • Mask opponents also have called for people to show up at today’s 6 p.m. Pasco County School Board meeting, where the topic is not on the agenda for consideration.

Vaccine eligibility is driving consideration. Three Seminole County schools will become sites to provide free shots to children ages 12-15, WOFL reports. • Florida schools can’t require the vaccinations. Such a mandate would take several steps including an act of the Legislature, WJAX reports.

The ongoing debate prompted the Florida Chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics to weigh in. Its statement reads: “Taking into account that children under 12 years of age are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, most children are still at risk for Coronavirus infection and transmitting the infection to others. Considering the recent CDC masking recommendations for schools, the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FCAAP) supports the continued, universal use of masks and physical distancing in schools by all individuals including students, faculty and staff through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. We also recommend the continuation of testing protocols in schools to mitigate the spread of infection.”

Let’s dance. One north Florida high school decided to allow its senior prom to go on, while others found alternatives for the annual celebration, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

Other school news

The drama keeps growing in Florida State University’s president search. A Board of Governors member has alleged the school’s accrediting agency improperly influenced the finalist selection, Florida Politics reports. • Meanwhile, the three remaining candidates shared their views for the university, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Who’s in charge here? The Citrus County school district has taken over the local police academy, after a decade of oversight by the Sheriff’s Office, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Education commissioner Richard Corcoran said he’s responsible for the firing of a Duval County teacher who displayed a Black Lives Matter flag. The district says she’s still employed. The teacher and her lawyers want more details, the Florida Times-Union reports. (Districts, not the state, hire and fire their employees.)

What’s in a name? A Duval County philanthropist has offered $50,000 to help the district rename nine schools, WJXT reports.

Not everyone speaks English. A new Sarasota County charter school will provide classes in English and Spanish, SNN-TV reports. • A new bilingual school for children with autism will open in Tampa, Bay News 9 reports.

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

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