The big story: After 11 weeks off, students in 61 of 67 Florida school district headed back to class on Thursday.
They faced plenty of new rules regarding how to behave and what to learn. But above all else, they got a chance to reconnect with friends and meet a different set of classmates and teachers, as they set into the school routine once again.
For their parents, it meant tougher travel on the roads, lots of paperwork to fill out, and the obligatory photos. We took some too. Check out our gallery of photos from across the Tampa Bay region.
Statewide, schools opened with about 7,000 teacher vacancies, WMFE reports. • Bradford County’s Brooker Elementary, shuttered in 2021, reopened as a community charter school, WCJB reports. • More on the first day back from Palm Beach Post, Herald-Tribune, Ocala Star-Banner, Gainesville Sun.
Broward and Miami-Dade students get to go through the ritual later this month, the Miami Herald reports.
Book challenges: A proposed rule to establish state appeals of local decision on book challenges would allow only the original objector to seek relief, leaving others who disagree out of the equation.
Gender issues: New College of Florida trustees voted to eliminate gender studies as a major at the school. One trustee called it more of an ideological movement than an academic discipline. • Transgender students face more restrictions in school because of new state laws and rules, the USA Today Florida Network reports.
Black history lessons: Several organizations have canceled their planned events in Florida because of the state’s controversial Black history standards. The group that initiated Black History Month years ago is still coming. • Hundreds of people showed up for a South Florida forum on the standards, Education commissioner Manny Diaz, who had been scheduled to speak, wasn’t among them, the Miami Herald reports. • Florida teachers are contemplating how to incorporate contested new Black history standards into their lessons, Bay News 9 reports. • NAACP leaders gathered in Tallahassee to urge the state Department of Education to revise the standards, WCTV reports.
Bus rides: A separated Pasco County family questioned why their son can’t have two school bus passes, WFLA reports. • The Orange County school district encouraged parents to drive their kids to school rather than take the bus, Spectrum 13 reports.
Superintendents: The Duval County School Board announced plans to select a new superintendent on Nov. 21, the Florida Times-Union reports.
Teacher pay: Florida teachers could lose state bonus money they earned when their students scored well in AP psychology if their districts no longer offer the course, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. • Broward County teachers could see bonuses up to $12,000 as part of a tentative contract agreement, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
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Other school news
A New College student no longer faces assault charges over accusations she spat at a trustee. The student agreed to withdraw from the school as part of the agreement.
Could a Floridian become education secretary in a second Donald Trump administration? School choice activist Erika Donalds, the wife of U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, is getting some attention, Mother Jones reports.
Florida schools have seen an increase in weapons brought to campuses. Districts are taking steps such as adding metal detectors to stem the tide, WPTV reports.
Escambia County district officials said a majority of their school media centers are open. Classroom libraries aren’t available, though, while media specialists focus on reviewing library books, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.
The Clay County School Board rejected purchasing the Achieve 3000 literacy program. Some board members said the district has too much technology in classrooms already, Clay Today reports.
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