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Pro-mask parents win a round vs. DeSantis in Florida’s school mask battle

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Sunlake High School students move between first and second period classes while attending the first day of school for Pasco County Students on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, in Land O Lakes.
Sunlake High School students move between first and second period classes while attending the first day of school for Pasco County Students on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, in Land O Lakes. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Aug. 20
Updated Aug. 20

A group of Florida parents and students sued Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration, arguing orders barring schools from enacting mask mandates without opt-out clauses had exceeded their authority. A Leon County judge heard the state’s motion to dismiss the case on Thursday. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

Attorneys for the governor argued that the parents and students “absolutely” had no standing to bring the case. “These parents and children, they have a right to have their case heard in court,” Judge John Cooper ruled.

More school districts discussed joining the group that imposed mask mandates with exemptions for medical reasons only. The Orange County School Board set a meeting for next week to vote on the idea, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Some board members called the governor’s order “illegal.” • The Sarasota County School Board has scheduled a special meeting for this afternoon to reconsider its rules, the Herald-Tribune reports. • So far, about 1 million students statewide are covered by such requirements, Politico Florida reports.

The Palm Beach County district eliminated its opt-out clause on Wednesday. Its new rule might be the strictest in Florida, the Palm Beach Post reports. By the sixth day of classes, more than 3,700 students had been sent home for exposure to the virus, the Palm Beach Post reports.

At least one Polk County School Board member wants to join in. She called for a special meeting to discuss the possibility, the Ledger reports.

Alachua County has started receiving doctors’ notes for students to opt out of masks. One physician signed close to half of them, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Some Duval County parents have asked to have their masked children sit apart from unmasked classmates. The school district won’t make that promise, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Gov. DeSantis repeated his argument that school districts are taking a political stance. “I think it’s to get on CNN and stuff,” he said during a news conference, WFLA reports.

It’s not just Florida. Officials in Texas and Arizona are feuding over school mask mandates too, the Associated Press reports. • The Texas Education Agency announced it will stop enforcing a ban on mask mandates because of ongoing court challenges, the Associated Press reports.

More coronavirus concerns

Faculty at Florida’s universities want their school leaders to do more to protect against virus spread. They’re urging DeSantis to let individual universities set their own COVID-19 protocols.

Families continue to look to online education as virus cases surge. The Duval County school district reopened virtual school registration to give students more access, WJXT reports.

No field trips, no dances. The Brevard County school district is tightening its protocols amid a rise in virus cases, Florida Today reports.

Take me out to the ballgame. Lee and Collier county high schools will allow 100 percent capacity at their football games this season, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. • Two Brevard County high school football games were canceled this week because of quarantines, WKMG reports. • Hillsborough County schools mandated masks for everyone but active athletes at indoor sporting events.

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Other school news

A Collier County woman was video recorded yelling racist comments at a family. She was a school district special education teacher. Now she’s fired, WBBH reports.

Still wanted: Bus drivers. The Orange County school district is considering whether to offer $2,500 hiring bonuses to fill vacancies, WOFL reports.

A Bay County charter school wants to build a new marine science building. The city of Lynn Haven is getting an earful after rejecting the school’s plan, the Panama City News Herald reports.

A Flagler County School Board member appears to be attempting to oust the board’s attorney. She also wants to sever the district’s relationship with the local health department. Her colleagues are not having it, Flagler Live reports.

From the court docket ... A Volusia County family is suing the school district, demanding access to a security video they say will show their child placed in a chokehold by a teacher, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

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

Before you go ... A moment of Zen. You know you need it.

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