Schooling during quarantine is proving tough for Florida

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
The University of Florida cracked the top five in a new ranking of national public universities for 2022.
The University of Florida cracked the top five in a new ranking of national public universities for 2022. [ University of Florida ]
Published Sept. 14, 2021

Just weeks before classes resumed in August, Floridians had every expectation that school would essentially be back to “normal.” Then the delta variant of the coronavirus came roaring through, upending so many plans. Mask battles resumed as case counts rose among young people. The quarantines followed. And that had some unintended consequences for teaching and learning. Read on for that story, plus some good news for the University of Florida and more Florida education news.

This was supposed to be the year schools help students catch up from any pandemic lost learning. Many students and teachers are finding it harder than ever to stay on track — especially if they’ve been quarantined.

Mask mandates

The Volusia County school district kicked off implementation of its new strict mask mandate. Officials said they had “no issues at all,” the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Lee County school district leaders indicated they’ll back away from their mandate. They plan to reinstitute a parent opt-out clause, WINK reports. More from Florida Politics.

Some anti-mask parents are fighting back in court. A group in Palm Beach County filed a federal lawsuit alleging mask mandates are arbitrary and capricious, WPTV reports. A similar case was filed in Duval County earlier this month, WTLV reports.

Others are looking for a work-around. Thousands of Sarasota County parents attended a weekend event where doctors provided medical excuses for their district’s mask mandate, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Opt-outs aren’t popular with everyone, either. Several community leaders urged St. Lucie County schools to adopt a stricter masking policy, TC Palm reports.

It’s not just Florida. Governors and lawmakers across the nation are reconsidering their school mask rules as coronavirus cases and quarantines rise, Pew Trusts Stateline reports. • A federal judge blocked Iowa’s ban on school mask mandates, saying it violated the rights of students with disabilities, the Associated Press reports.

Want to listen instead? WLRN’s Sundial made Florida’s school mask debate the topic of its Monday show.

More coronavirus concerns

COVID cases are declining in some areas. The Marion County school district recorded a 50 percent drop over two weeks, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

Homecoming week is fast approaching. Collier County high schools won’t be having any dances, due to the pandemic, WINK reports.

The Duval County school district is exploring updates to its communicable diseases policies. They currently focus primarily on HIV and AIDS, WJXT reports.

Other school news

The University of Florida has been angling for elite status for years. It made the U.S. News & World Report’s list of Top 5 public universities for 2022.

Is your school safe? After Parkland, the state changed its rules for reporting campus security incidents. Not all schools are following along, WINK reports. More on concerns at one Lee County school from WFTX.

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The Miami-Dade County school district collected more than $6 million for driver education programs. A district inspector general’s report shows the district misused the money, the Miami Herald reports.

From the police blotter ... Three Broward County 12-year-olds were arrested for making a threat of violence against their school, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

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

Before you go ... To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Band of the Welsh Guards played the U.S. National anthem at the changing of the guard, just as two decades ago.

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