Florida school districts ease mask, quarantine rules

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Schools adopted protocols including masks, one-way hallways and social distancing as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. They're slowly backing off many of the actions as cases recede.
Schools adopted protocols including masks, one-way hallways and social distancing as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. They're slowly backing off many of the actions as cases recede. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Oct. 27, 2021|Updated Oct. 27, 2021

With COVID-19 cases on the decline, school districts across Florida have begun revising their pandemic protocols. Even some of those with the strictest rules, which have challenged the state’s authority to tell them what to do, have taken such steps. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

Masking rules continued to fade. Other approaches received updates, too. Among the changes:

The Broward County School Board narrowly voted to lift its mask requirements for high school students, while keeping them in place for elementary and middle schools, the Associated Press reports.

• The Brevard County School Board voted 3-2 to add an opt-out provision to its mask mandate for children too young to be vaccinated, Florida Today reports. Having been bombarded with often heated public feedback on its protocols, the board also decided to revise its public commenting rules for meetings, Spectrum 13 reports.

The Duval County School Board updated its policies for dealing with epidemics. It granted the superintendent administrative power to control the spread of disease, based on data, WJXT reports.

Leon County superintendent Rocky Hanna announced asymptomatic children who have been exposed to a positive case no longer would have to wear masks, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Orange County superintendent Barbara Jenkins said she would announce her district’s next step on masking on Thursday, Spectrum 13 reports.

• The Florida Department of Education said it would not stop sanctioning districts that violate state rules and laws on masking, despite what it called “legally hollow” threats by the federal government, Center Square reports. More from WCJB. Meanwhile, the state’s surgeon general responsible for promulgating the controversial school masking rule did not apologize for refusing to wear a mask when asked to by a state senator, saying he can’t communicate clearly with half his face covered.

In the classroom

Kindness and bullying are both learned behaviors. The Polk County early learning coalition is using National Bullying Awareness Month to teach preschoolers how to be kind, the Ledger reports.

The Citrus County school district is updating its classroom technology. It will use federal stimulus funds to cover the expense, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Teacher pay

The Manatee County school district’s local option property tax referendum has become partisan. Area Republicans are campaigning against the tax, saying there’s no need, Florida Politics reports. The revenue is used to supplement teacher salaries.

It’s contract negotiation season for many school districts. Negotiators for Brevard County teachers proposed raises worth more than $13 million, Florida Today reports.

Follow what’s happening in Tampa Bay schools

Follow what’s happening in Tampa Bay schools

Subscribe to our free Gradebook newsletter

We’ll break down the local and state education developments you need to know every Thursday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Other school news

The University of South Florida has explored developing a forested area north of its Tampa campus. A consultant reported that much of the preserve is not suitable for development.

Some kids never learn. A Flagler County elementary school student was arrested for making a false report of an active shooting at her school, where the identical thing happened to another child about seven weeks ago, Flagler Live reports.

A Miami-Dade County high school teacher is under investigation for alleged inappropriate interactions with a student. He has been removed from the school during the review, the Miami Herald reports.

From the police blotter ... An Orange County elementary school principal was arrested on accusations of attempting to run over her neighbor with a car, WKMG reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... Hey you guys! NPR was nice enough to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Electric Company the other day, talking about where the educational program came from and why it didn’t last. Conjured up some memories of Rita Moreno, Morgan Freeman and the cast as we haven’t seen them in years. Remember this one?

• • •

Sign up for the Gradebook newsletter!

Every Thursday, get the latest updates on what’s happening in Tampa Bay area schools from Times education reporter Jeffrey S. Solochek. Click here to sign up.