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Lawmakers aim to widen parent discretion on school masks, COVID vaccines

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Florida's Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson, left, speaks with Democratic colleague Sen. Perry Thurston before the opening of a special legislative session targeting COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida lawmakers began debating a package of bills to combat coronavirus vaccine mandates, continuing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' fight against virus rules. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Florida's Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson, left, speaks with Democratic colleague Sen. Perry Thurston before the opening of a special legislative session targeting COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida lawmakers began debating a package of bills to combat coronavirus vaccine mandates, continuing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' fight against virus rules. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) [ REBECCA BLACKWELL | AP ]
Published Nov. 16

The Florida Legislature kicked off its special session focusing on how far the government and employers may go in imposing vaccine and mask mandates. Not surprisingly, schools were part of the mix. Read on for the latest on this story and more Florida education news.

Schools have been a focal point over the heated debate over mask requirements since they reopened. Lawmakers advanced legislation that would give parents sole authority in deciding whether their children will wear masks, or get vaccinated for COVID-19. Session continues today.

More coronavirus concerns

A Palm Beach County teacher was at the center of a court battle to use ivermectin to combat COVID-19. She died without gaining access to the controversial drug, the Palm Beach Post reports.

The Lee County school district is adding early release days to its calendar. The goal is to ease the pressure on teachers, who have felt the stress of pandemic demands, WFTX reports.

Higher education

Three more University of Florida professors have joined a lawsuit against the school. The claim the university violated their rights by preventing them from testifying in cases against the state.

Meanwhile, UF staff and adjunct faculty have formed a union. Members seek to have a greater voice in decisions that affect them, WUFT reports.

Florida State University found three professors guilty of sexual misconduct with students. It fired one, suspended another and let the third remain, WUFT reports.

Florida Memorial University has experienced 10-year enrollment decline. Officials are examining potential cuts to programs and staff, the Miami Herald reports.

Hot topics

School safety: There’s been an increase in pranks and hoax school threats in Florida and nationally. A Broward County high school evacuated and sent everyone home early Monday because of one such threat, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Lake County schools have seen a trend in disruptive threats this year, the Daily Commercial reports. • Errant use of a new panic alarm system has led to false alarms in the Volusia County school district, WFTV reports.

Teacher pay: Brevard County teachers reached a contract agreement with the district that provides one-time bonuses, without raises, Spectrum 13 reports. • Low pay is among the factors leading to higher than usual teacher resignations throughout central Florida, WKMG reports.

School crowding: The Lee County School Board is reevaluating the need for a new school in a growth area, WINK reports.

Public participation: The Brevard County School Board plans to reconsider its recently imposed restrictions on public input at meetings, Florida Today reports. A parent group has sued the district over the changes.

From the police blotter ... A Miami-Dade County high school teacher was arrested on allegations of inappropriately touching female students, WTVJ reports. • A Broward County teacher was arrested on accusations of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor, WPLG reports. • A Pasco County teacher was arrested on allegations of assaulting an 11-year-old near his home, WFLA reports.

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