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School districts continue fight Florida mask rules despite sanctions

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
The Florida State Board of Education at a meeting June 10, 2021, in Jacksonville. The board met by telephone on Oct. 7 to discuss school district masking policies.
The Florida State Board of Education at a meeting June 10, 2021, in Jacksonville. The board met by telephone on Oct. 7 to discuss school district masking policies. [ The Florida Channel ]
Published Oct. 8

The State Board of Education needed less than two hours Thursday to deal with eight school districts that commissioner Richard Corcoran deemed out of compliance with Florida rules and laws relating to school masks. The results were not surprising. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

The board found all eight districts to have violated the law, and approved financial sanctions on each. The U.S. Department of Education quickly noted that part of the penalty was not allowed under federal law. Three districts, including Hillsborough County, were not considered because they rescinded their rules.

Several of the district officials contended during their remarks that the state’s action barring strict mask mandates was not allowed under law. Six of them joined a growing challenge before the Division of Administrative Hearings, Florida Today reports. More from the Florida Times-Union, News Service of Florida.

Some parents have sued the Alachua and Duval school districts, demanding they comply with the state. A judge gave districts until Friday to respond to the complaint, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Questions about the efficacy of masking on reducing COVID-19 cases in schools continued. NIkki Fried, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis next year, issued new numbers she claimed covered the gap in reporting by the DeSantis administration, Florida Phoenix reports. More from Florida Politics.

More coronavirus concerns

During the State Board meeting, at least one superintendent urged the state to apply for Florida’s slice of the American Recovery Act funding for schools. Corcoran noted the state had submitted its request hours earlier, the Associated Press reports. Florida had been the only state not to ask for the money, months after the deadline had passed.

Positive cases continue to decline. Marion County schools announced they might soon allow the return of volunteers if the trend continues, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. • The Santa Rosa County school district lifted its capacity on attending indoor events, and resumed having campus visitors and volunteers, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. • The Nassau County school district ended its mask mandate, which allowed for parental opt out, WJXT reports. • The Volusia County school district said adults will no longer be required to wear masks, WESH reports.

Other school news

Parents and politicians in Florida and elsewhere are criticizing the Biden Administration for plans to send the FBI after school board protestors deemed “domestic terrorists.” But that’s not really what the U.S. Department of Justice is doing, WJXT reports.

‘Pranks’ carry consequences. Two Martin County teens were arrested on allegations of threatening to shoot up their school, WPTV reports. The teens claimed it was “just a prank.”

A Broward County high school student is running for School Board. He says he wants to give a voice to the voiceless, People reports.

Workers wanted. The Volusia County school district is seeking bus drivers, classroom aides, substitute teachers and more. Its shortages have worsened during the pandemic, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

A Lee County School Board member made controversial comments about Guatemalan students. Some residents have started a petition to get her removed, WINK reports.

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

Before you go ... This Palm Beach County first grader has the moves.

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