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DeSantis pushes more parental choice in Florida’s coronavirus response

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Dr. Joseph Ladapo, left, was named Tuesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis as Florida's next surgeon general. He issued a new emergency rule on school COVID-19 protocols a day after his appointment.
Dr. Joseph Ladapo, left, was named Tuesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis as Florida's next surgeon general. He issued a new emergency rule on school COVID-19 protocols a day after his appointment. [ MARY ELLEN KLAS | Times/Herald ]
Published Sep. 23

Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t been shy about his views on schooling during a pandemic. Kids should be in school, he argues, not forced to wear masks and not required to quarantine just because they’ve been exposed to COVID-19. On Wednesday, he took his position to the next level, with his newly appointed surgeon general at his side. Read on for that story and more Florida education news. • The morning roundup will take a brief fall break and return next week.

Surgeon general Joseph Ladapo issued a new emergency rule governing school pandemic protocols. It said parents have the “sole discretion” to decide if their children wear masks, and they can choose whether they want their kids to stay home after coming in contact with a positive virus case, so long as they remain asymptomatic. The new rule derailed a legal challenge against the old one brought by five school districts, the News Service of Florida reports. • Ladapo’s views on dealing with the pandemic were well known before he arrived in Florida.

Some districts quickly fell in line with the latest action. The Santa Rosa County school district issued updated protocols soon after the announcement, WEAR reports. So did Bay County, WJHG reports.

The Palm Beach County school district officials said they want to reduce quarantines, too. The School Board agreed to follow the state’s new rule allowing parents to choose for students without symptoms, WPTV reports. The district’s approach also includes increased school-based virus testing and contact tracing, the Palm Beach Post reports. More from the Post.

Lee County’s superintendent held a Facebook Live session to explain his district’s efforts to the community. He defended his switch away from a strict mask rule, and then covered other topics such as testing and a recent school shooting threat there, the Lehigh Acres Citizen reports.

Education funding

Florida’s universities have improved their ratings while keeping tuition static. School leaders asked state lawmakers to consider increasing funding for their efforts, Florida Politics reports.

Florida school districts have pressured the state to release more federal coronavirus relief funds. State officials said much of the money already allocated has yet to be used, Florida Phoenix reports.

Lawmakers raised concerns that districts aren’t using funding set aside to help them find and help students who disappeared while schools were closed. They said only $4,000 of $112 million was requested for the effort, WJXT reports.

Other school news

‘Why can’t we keep drivers?’ A Citrus County school bus driver talked about the struggles of driving during a shortage, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Show them the money. Orange County teachers are pushing for bigger raises, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The Sarasota County School Board is considering changes to its public comment rules. It tabled action on its proposal, which some said was aimed at removing the political rally atmosphere from the meetings, the Herald-Tribune reports.

‘It’s actually scary.’ Videos of fights at Hillsborough County’s Lennard High school are frequently appearing on social media, raising concerns among parents and students, WFTS reports.

Some Alachua County residents have challenged the credentials of superintendent Carlee Simon. They contend she hasn’t met all terms of her contract, the Alachua Chronicle reports. The School Board’s attorney said she has done everything required of her, the Gainesville Sun reports.

The Flagler County school district planned a major revision of attendance zones for next year. Officials said they will scale back the proposal after receiving complaints that the moves were being based on racial and socio-economic equity, Flagler Live reports.

A Manatee County special education prekindergarten aide is out of her job. She resigned after a student found a razor left in a class restroom and used it to shave his eyebrows, the Bradenton Herald reports.

From the court docket ... A former Seminole County school custodian was sentenced to 60 years for secretly filming students in the bathroom, NBC reports. • A former Lee County assistant principal has sued the school district, contending she was wrongfully fired for raising questions about the district’s school violence incident reporting, WINK reports.

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

Before you go ... Think you know all you need to know about Muhammad Ali? Have you been watching the Ken Burns version on PBS? Here’s a sneak peek that might prompt you to want more.

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