Florida schools shift pandemic protocols as new cases decrease

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Students arrive at Skycrest Elementary School during first day of school on Wednesday, Aug, 11, 2021, in Clearwater.
Students arrive at Skycrest Elementary School during first day of school on Wednesday, Aug, 11, 2021, in Clearwater. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Sept. 20, 2021

Are we entering a new phase of the coronavirus pandemic in Florida? The numbers seem to be telling a tale, and some school districts are responding. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

New case numbers are falling in many places. They peaked in late August for Tampa-area schools, then began dropping in districts with and without strict mask mandates.

For some, that shift prompted a lift on previous restrictions. Pasco County high schools announced they will allow previously banned homecoming pep rallies and dances to take place. • The Miami-Dade County school district eased its quarantine protocols, the Miami Herald reports. • The Sarasota County school district’s strict mask rule could become optional if that county’s positivity rate remains below 8 percent for three days in a row, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Still, large case counts have affected several schools. They’ve closed classrooms, grade levels and some full campuses, the USA Today Florida Network reports. More from the Daytona Beach News-Journal, The Ledger.

And demands for mask mandates continue. Parents in Escambia County are among the latest to request such a rule, WKRG reports.

Leadership issues

Alachua County superintendent Carlee Simon has been on the job just 10 months. Not the first choice for the job, she quickly grew into it as she endured a trial by fire, the Gainesville Sun reports.

The Flagler County School Board held a retreat in search of greater unity. It got anything but, Flagler Live reports.

Should Florida’s school board elections be partisan? Legislation seeking to transform the posts back to party affiliated picked up a Senate sponsor, Bay News Nine reports. • Education policy and politics promise to be among the top issues of the 2022 legislative session, which begins with committee meetings this week, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

It’s budget season for Florida school districts. The Volusia County School Board approved using reserves to cover a $41 million shortfall in anticipated revenue, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • The St. Johns County school district hit the $1 billion level on its spending plan for the first time, the St. Augustine Record reports.

‘You have to leave sometime.’ Jan Pullen, a leader at Manatee County’s St. Stephen’s Episcopal School since the late 1980′s, has decided to retire, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Other school news

Where have all the students gone? About 12,000 children have left the Broward County school district to attend other schools, surprising officials who expected enrollment to rebound, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Wanted: Cafeteria workers. The Brevard County school district has about 50 job openings for food service employees, Spectrum 13 reports.

A former Manatee County educator had several sanctions placed on his state certification. He’s asking the state to vacate all the actions, the Bradenton Times reports.

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Some St. Johns County students were recorded shouting homophobic slurs against others. Parents are demanding action, WJXT reports.

Parents started a petition to bar two Lee County students accused of plotting a school shooting from returning to campus. The parents of one of the boys said she plans to home school her son, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

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