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School resumes in two weeks in Florida. Buses, masks remain points of concern.

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
A bus driver directs students at the drop off circle on the first day of school before the start of classes at the entrance of Gulf High School in August 2020. The Pasco district is one of many struggling to fill all its driver positions for the 2021-22 school year.
A bus driver directs students at the drop off circle on the first day of school before the start of classes at the entrance of Gulf High School in August 2020. The Pasco district is one of many struggling to fill all its driver positions for the 2021-22 school year. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jul. 27

Florida has experienced school bus driver shortages each fall for several years. This year, it appears worse than ever. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

Some Tampa area districts already are warning parents and students to prepare for late buses. Officials say hiring efforts are barely making a dent.

One north Florida district is taking more dramatic steps. Escambia County is changing the start times of 44 schools to accommodate busing needs, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

Coronavirus concerns

The federal government has allocated billions of dollars to Florida for education pandemic relief. It’s barely been touched, Florida Phoenix reports.

A push to consider reimposing mask mandates in schools is growing. Some Leon County parents and educators have joined the call, the Capitol News Service reports. • Orange County’s mayor is urging the school district to change its optional policy back to a requirement, WOFL reports. • Some medical researchers agree, WUSF reports.

With a variant of the coronavirus booming, some people also are questioning other ways schools are preparing for the fall. The lack of a live online option, and the removal of some health safety protections, have some in Duval County raising concerns, WJXT reports. • A return to “normal, pre-COVID” conditions has several parents rethinking sending their kids back, the Bradenton Herald reports.

The discussion is expected to surface in the Tampa Bay area today. The Hillsborough County School Board meets at 4 p.m., the Pinellas board at 5 p.m. and the Pasco board at 6 p.m. Groups of mask proponents and opponents have signaled they intend to attend each.

Leadership news

University of South Florida leaders have a plan for running the school while seeking a new president. They’re recommending Rhea Law, an alumna and former trustee chairman, as interim president.

The Broward County School Board hired an Orange County educator as interim superintendent. Her salary will be $275,000 a year, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

In the schools

The Volusia County school district is buying a church property for about $1 million. It plans to expand its headquarters on the site, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

“Our hearts are broken.” A Polk County charter school’s longtime principal unexpectedly died at age 50, the Ledger reports.

What not to wear? The St. Johns County School Board will discuss contentious proposed changes to its dress code, the St. Augustine Record reports.

Who is eligible for special education services? A state lawmaker has proposed legislation to expand the definition, Florida Politics reports.

School safety is key. The Fort Myers Police Department will continue to provide resource officers to schools, despite talk it might pull out, WINK reports.

From the police blotter ... A longtime Lake County school bus driver was arrested on accusations of inappropriate touching of students, the Daily Commercial reports.

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

Before you go ... Is this how you guessed Florida Polytechnic University president Randy Avent spends his spare time?

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