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Florida’s school reopening order causes angst, concerns

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has tied reviving Florida’s coronavirus-slammed economy tightly to the reopening of schools in August. So when his administration issued an emergency order on the return to in-person classes, on the same day that President Trump tweeted out that “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!,” many Floridians didn’t look past the order’s requirement that all districts “must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students.” A hue and cry soon followed. But the order, and the explanation offered to school leaders, was a bit more nuanced than that, as some officials noted. Read on for the story and more Florida education news.

The emergency order acknowledged differing scenarios in different parts of the state. It also recognized that not all parents intend to send their children back to school buildings come August. Chancellor Jacob Oliva said flexibility in education options and funding will be key — along with plenty of progress monitoring — to keeping students moving ahead with their lessons. • Some district officials said the state order upends their reopening plans, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Others contended the order doesn’t undermine their local authority, the Palm Beach Post reports.

With uncertainty still looming, it’s no wonder some families are balking at stating their preferences right now. The Hillsborough County school district gave everyone an extra week to think about their first semester choices. Some parents are demanding mandatory masks. Many are giving full-time virtual education a closer look.

Teachers aren’t thrilled about the state’s direction, either. Leaders of Treasure Coast region employee unions say reopening under current health conditions could be ‘catastrophic,' TC Palm reports.

One thing many people want — more details. Leon County teachers and parents are complaining their district’s proposed plan is scarce on specifics, the Gainesville Sun reports. • Lee County’s plan still contains many unknowns, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. • Santa Rosa County schools are further along, but new details about the coronavirus keep its task force reconsidering its strategies, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Stop me if you’ve heard enough about virus-delayed graduation ceremonies. The Manatee County school district has changed its commencement plans yet again, the Bradenton Herald reports. • Volusia County high schools have mandated masks at their events, after originally saying they were optional, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • Charlotte County high schools canceled their in-person events, WINK reports.

Summer school is under way amid all the concerns. Citrus County has its elementary program in person, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

The Pasco County School Board is considering changes to its student code of conduct that would add penalties for students who make inappropriate social media comments and can be identified by their school uniforms or apparel. [Times | 2018]

Are you wearing a school uniform or apparel? If you’re a Pasco County public school student, you better watch what you say on social media.

The state’s plan to boost the minimum teacher salary still rankles veteran educators. Some Bay County teachers are expressing their discontent, the Panama City News Herald reports.

Who’s in charge here? Thirty Duval County principals expect to be reassigned for the new school year, the Florida Times-Union reports.

STEM lessons should be for everyone. Some Leon County teens create an after-school program to encourage more African-American teens into the science and math fields, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Did you miss a story? You can revisit yesterday’s roundup for the links you want.

Before you go ... The devil went down to Georgia, he was looking for a soul to steal. RIP, Charlie Daniels. Hope you got a chance to see him live at least once. Worth it.

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 do you think about the state’s emergency order on school reopening? Send an e-mail to jsolochek@tampabay.com. - Jeff

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