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Coronavirus still looms large over Florida schools

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

The spike in positive COVID-19 test results across Florida has school districts continuing to seek ways to resume classes safely in August. They’re also trying to figure out how to operate now. It’s playing out in some interesting ways.  Read on for that and more Florida education news.  

‘One thing we have learned is that our parents want choice.’ That’s a driving factor as the Hillsborough County school district crafts its reopening plan, which superintendent Addison Davis says remains fluid. • Duval County’s model includes lots of options, too, the Florida Times-Union reports. 

The use of masks remains a flash point. Pasco County schools required anyone visiting or working inside its schools and sites this summer to wear one, effective immediately. • The St. Johns County school district considers mandating masks on buses, WJXT reports. • The choice appears up to each district. Gov. DeSantis won’t impose them, USA Today Network reports.

Distance learning remains a distinct possibility for many students. To ensure equity of access, the Pinellas County School Board approved purchasing new laptops. Lots of them

Money changes everything. Tight budgets could limit schools’ abilities to implement social distancing practices, the Associated Press reports. 

Even so, at least one district plans to go all-out for bricks and mortar. ‘A blended approach wouldn’t work for our district,’ Volusia County superintendent Scott Fritz tells the Daytona Beach News-Journal

Another discusses postponing the start of classes. A Palm Beach County School Board member suggests waiting until September, the Palm Beach Post reports. 

Yet another is all about contingency plans. Leon County district officials are preparing for anything from a full return to empty schools, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. 

Through it all, some seniors still want an in-person graduation ceremony. The Hillsborough district intends to deliver — indoors and in July — despite the rise in COVID-19 cases. • The Osceola County school district, by contrast, cancels its July plans, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • Several people who attended Bradford County High’s commencement have tested positive, WCJB reports. 

University of South Florida students are seen walking around campus at USF on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. The campus is unlikely to be as crowded as students return in the fall of 2020. [Times (2018)]

Florida’s universities have reopening plans. The Board of Governors approved all 12 on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. 

Students must feel safe. The Indian River County School Board shifts from past decisions, moving to ban the Confederate flag and other hate symbols from being displayed on campuses, TC Palm reports. 

Many school dress codes have targeted girls’ clothing deemed ‘distracting.’ The Orange County School Board has done away with that rule, which many deemed sexist, the Orlando Sentinel reports. 

Gov. DeSantis signs more education bills. They include measures to increase lessons on Holocaust and African-American history and to provide added safety precautions for high school athletes. But the budget and bills on expanding vouchers and paying teacher raises remain on the desk.

Time for a closer look. The Broward County school district will review a major technology purchase after an audit turned up problems, the Sun-Sentinel reports. 

Who will be Sarasota County’s next superintendent? All five semifinalists were invited to interview, the Herald-Tribune reports. 

There’s a site for that. The Marion County school district secures property for a new campus in a planned 692-home subdivision, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. 

Miss a story? You can always take another look at yesterday’s roundup

Before you go ... The five finalists for Florida Teacher of the Year made their way to Tallahassee for a series of activities this week. Looks like they might be having a bit of fun. We should know the winner sometime in July.

Join our daily Facebook conversation to share your views. And be sure to share this roundup with your friends and colleagues. Know someone who might want to sign up for the Gradebook newsletter? Share this link. What are your plans for summer and fall schooling? Send an e-mail to jsolochek@tampabay.com. - Jeff

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