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A year of in-person schooling is ending. How bad were the virus outbreaks?

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Florida schools implemented several steps, such as masks and plexiglass shields, to try to reduce coronavirus spread. With the year ending, officials and others are examining how the efforts worked.
Florida schools implemented several steps, such as masks and plexiglass shields, to try to reduce coronavirus spread. With the year ending, officials and others are examining how the efforts worked. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]
Published Jun. 3
Updated Jun. 3

Concerns about schools becoming the hubs of coronavirus outbreaks were common when the pandemic first surfaced more than a year ago. Many groups of parents and educators pushed to keep campuses closed as a precaution. The schools opened to in-person nonetheless, and now communities have months’ worth of data to consider. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

Florida schools had thousands of virus cases and quarantines. The number didn’t approach the fears that many had. Now observers are speculating why that might be.

The issue of mask use has loomed large over the discussion. A group of Polk County families has sued their school district to end its mask mandate, the Ledger reports. • Orange County medical experts have warned school district officials not to ease their mask rules too quickly, despite demands for it to make face coverings optional, Spectrum 13 reports. • The Sarasota County School Board took steps toward lifting its mask mandate by the end of June, the Charlotte Sun reports.

Vaccinations are expected to play a role. The Palm Beach County School Board will partner with the health department to provide vaccination sites for children as young as 12, WPEC reports. • A mobile clinic is touring Lee County schools to offer the inoculations, WINK reports.

Alachua County teachers want to make sure students keep learning this summer. They’re creating materials for a $400,000 district project to send backpacks of materials home with children for summer enrichment, WUFT reports.

Tallahassee action

The budget is official. Gov. Ron DeSantis touted teacher bonuses, increased school mental health funding and other aspects of the education spending plan as he signed it into law. More from Florida Politics, Florida Phoenix.

How does Florida rate nationally in education spending? Second in equity, 46th in per student funding, Education Week reports.

The Department of Education launched a three-stop listening tour on its proposed civics standards revisions. The state made no recordings of the event, which some in attendance criticized as a “dog and pony show,” Florida Phoenix reports. The second town hall is planned for tonight in Kissimmee.

State lawmakers didn’t advance a bill to revamp Florida’s rules governing hazardous walking conditions to schools. The House speaker decided to fund the study from his budget, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

School news

The state has focused attention on improving early learning opportunities for preschool-aged children. The Pinellas County district is using federal stimulus funds to add free, full-day prekindergarten to 25 schools that serve the highest percentages of families in poverty.

NIMBY. A Polk County private school wants to relocate near a residential area whose neighbors say it wouldn’t be compatible, the Ledger reports.

Contributions have poured in to help cover the costs of renaming six Duval County schools. The local education foundation reported receiving more than $80,000 in a day to help strip the schools of Confederate soldiers’ names, WJAX reports.

Growth is squeezing some Martin County schools. District officials began exploring the conversion of a middle school to a high school as part of the solution, TC Palm reports.

Leadership issues

The Broward County school district needs an interim leader. Few candidates with management experience applied, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Meanwhile, a judge is looking into whether to dismiss perjury charges against former superintendent Robert Runcie, the Sun-Sentinel reports. The judge signaled the indictment against Runcie was light on information, but didn’t rule.

Alachua County School Board members praised their new superintendent’s reorganization plans. More than 1,000 people signed a petition signaling no confidence in the superintendent over her actions, which include ousting nine top administrators, the Gainesville Sun reports.

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

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