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Florida’s never-ending school mask debate

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Opponents to mandatory school masking rules demonstrate before the Hillsborough County School Board meeting on May 18, 2021. Parents across Florida continue the mask debate as the delta variant of the virus has some school officials considering a new mask rule.
Opponents to mandatory school masking rules demonstrate before the Hillsborough County School Board meeting on May 18, 2021. Parents across Florida continue the mask debate as the delta variant of the virus has some school officials considering a new mask rule. [ MARLENE SOKOL | Times staff ]
Published Jul. 22

Masks. It’s the conversation that many Floridians had hoped was behind us. Yet here we are again, debating whether schools should again require the use of facial coverings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Parents who hate the idea, and those who like it, have begun inundating their school district officials with opinions as they see the latest variation of the virus take off. Still, the governor has insisted that such mandates not return for a second year. What’s going to happen? Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

Mask advice continues to shift. The Duval County School Board altered its policy from “optional” to “strongly recommended,” the Florida Times-Union reports.

What do parents want? Some Orange County parents are demanding masks for the new year, WFTV reports. • The Manatee County school district is asking parents whether they want their children in a masked or unmasked classroom, the Herald-Tribune reports.

State officials continue to push for choice on masks. They contend that districts that had mask mandates last year fared no better on virus spread than those without, WTSP reports.

For some districts, the answer is to wait. The St. Johns County school system is among those that has put off a final decision on how its health protocols will play out come August, the St. Augustine Record reports. • The discussion also is gaining new energy in Alachua County, the Gainesville Sun reports.

What’s the issue? The increase of cases in Florida, where the vaccination rate is lower than many states, has prompted some doctors to recommend staying away from the state, Yahoo News reports. • U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio says it’s every Floridian’s right to decide whether to be vaccinated, Florida Politics reports.

Hot topics

Lessons about race: A conservative lawmaker wants Polk County’s new superintendent removed. Rep. Anthony Sabatini said superintendent Fred Heid shouldn’t be participating in an NAACP talk about “critical race theory,” the Ledger reports.

School names: A Duval County school is dropping its Confederate name. Its nickname, the “Generals,” will stay, the Florida Times-Union reports.

School news

Many educators fail to pass their state teacher certification exams on the first try. Florida offers some revealing examples, The 74 reports.

Who’s next? The Palm Beach County School Board picked CFO Michael Burke to serve as its interim superintendent, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

‘It’s a very urgent need.’ The Lake County held its first job fair since the pandemic began, with dozens of critical positions to fill, WKMG reports. • The Martin County school district hopes to hire nearly 170 more faculty and staff before school resumes, WPTV reports.

The pandemic postponed new school construction for Marin County. Now work is set to begin on two new campuses, TC Palm reports.

Lake Worth Beach city officials want to see their local schools do better. They’ve created a volunteer task force to look into any challenges the schools face, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Five finalists are up for teacher of the year. You can watch the events unfold tonight at 7 p.m. on The Florida Channel.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

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