Florida’s school mask, quarantine rules draw more criticism

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks at Walter R. Sundling Junior High School in Palatine, Sept. 21, 2021. Cardona is on a tour of U.S. schools, celebrating the full return of in-person classroom this fall.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks at Walter R. Sundling Junior High School in Palatine, Sept. 21, 2021. Cardona is on a tour of U.S. schools, celebrating the full return of in-person classroom this fall.
Published Sept. 30, 2021

It’s been a week since Florida’s new surgeon general issued updated guidelines giving parents more authority over deciding to mask or quarantine their children in school. Districts that have opposed the state’s effort to ban strict mask mandates largely have stood firm against the revised rule (with a few exceptions). And the Biden administration continues to back them. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

Federal officials took a dim view of Florida’s latest school quarantining guidance. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called the parental choice principle “dangerous.”

The state Department of Education is prepared to act against districts that don’t follow its rule. So far, no districts have filed new challenges with the Division of Administrative Hearings, the News Service of Florida reports.

More coronavirus concerns

Wear a mask, or else. An Orange County school district employee was fired for refusing to to follow the district’s mask mandate, WESH reports.

Want a COVID booster shot? The University of South Florida is offering free ones to all eligible members of its community.

Cases, quarantines are shrinking. Palm Beach County schools have seen the number of students sent home decrease by nearly 90 percent, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Sports and other activities are opening up. The Miami-Dade County school district released its latest rules easing restrictions, the Miami Herald reports.

Student leadership

An Orange County high school elected its first transgender homecoming queen. She said she felt supported by the student body, WESH reports.

The internet is forever. Florida Atlantic University’s student government president is under fire over a TikTok video in which he joked about Chinese people eating dogs, the FAU University Press reports. He had deleted the video months ago, but it resurfaced.

Growing strong

The Hillsborough County school district faces a south-county crisis. Enrollment keeps rising, filling schools well beyond capacity, and finding sites for new construction isn’t easy.

Leon County is closer to getting its sixth charter school. A state panel has recommended overruling the School Board’s denial of the application, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Pensacola State College wants to open a charter school on its Warrington campus. It would be a dual enrollment academy, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Controversial lessons

Florida’s ‘critical race theory’ debate has made some teachers skittish. One Volusia County educator raised concerns about using a state-approved book about Rosa Parks, fearful that parents might complain about the text’s negative depiction of the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow laws, the Daytona Beach News Journal reports.

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The teacher of an advanced classical studies course at an Okaloosa County high school showed students an R-rated movie about Alexander the Great. Parents complained about the sexual content, and the superintendent is investigating, WKRG reports.

School safety

The number of gun-related incidents at Leon County schools is rising. District and law enforcement officials urged parents to lock up their weapons before something bad happens, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Don’t pass a school bus with its stop arm extended. Lawmakers want to allow school districts to place cameras on the buses to catch drivers who ignore the signals, Florida Politics reports.

Alachua County schools continue to cope with the fallout of bomb threats. The latest one affected the school and the surrounding community for hours, Main Street Daily News reports.

From the police blotter ... A teacher at a Leon County Catholic school was arrested on multiple counts of child pornography possession and transmission, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. • A Clay County school bus driver swerved to avoid hitting a cat, and ended up crashing the bus, WFLA reports.

More school news

She made high school football history. A Hillsborough County private school sophomore became the first girl to score a touchdown in a Florida high school football game, WTVT reports.

A Lee County School Board member is apologizing over statements that offended Guatemalan students. Members of the community want more than just an apology, WFTX reports.

There’s a new TikTok challenge that has educators on edge. The Broward County teachers union has warned its members to be on the lookout for the ‘slap a teacher’ challenge, WPLG reports.

From the court docket ... A former administrative assistant at a Lee County charter school was sentenced to 40 months in prison for stealing $87,000 from the school, the Associated Press reports. • An appellate court found the Palm Beach County school district cannot be held responsible for the injuries of a student hit by a car while headed to a school bus stop, the News Service of Florida reports.

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

Before you go ... We might have missed the actual International Day of Peace, but still can’t pass up a great version of “Peace Train.”

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