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Florida’s first day of school is coming. Or is it?

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
A group of teachers, parents, students and supporters gather outside Strawberry Crest High School on July 15, 2020, as the Florida Board of Education meets inside. They came to protest the state's pressure to reopen schools to in-person classes in August.
A group of teachers, parents, students and supporters gather outside Strawberry Crest High School on July 15, 2020, as the Florida Board of Education meets inside. They came to protest the state's pressure to reopen schools to in-person classes in August. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]
Published Jul. 16, 2020

The State Board of Education came to the Tampa Bay area on Wednesday, its goal to reinforce the message that it’s safe to be inside the schools. Even Gov. Ron DeSantis made an appearance. But the message got a bit tarnished by one of the board’s own members, who took the Department of Education to task for its reopening order. And there were protesters, too. Read on for that and the rest of today’s Florida education news.

Welcome to Hillsborough County. Don’t make us return to classrooms in August, some teachers and parents urged the State Board at the panel’s first face-to-face meeting in months. Most of the board defended the state’s approach to reopening, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Take your time, do it right. Hillsborough’s superintendent got the community’s message, and called for a two week delay to the start of school. • Collier County schools also announced a postponement to their scheduled first day, the Naples Daily News reports. • The St. Johns County School Board called on its administration to put off classes, too, saying the district can’t be ready, the Florida Times-Union reports. • Polk County went for a two-week delay, warning it could go even longer if necessary, the Ledger reports. • And in Palm Beach County, the decision was to wait but not to choose a date, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Can they do that? Brevard County’s School Board chairwoman says all the competing directives, rules and laws are confusing, making district decisions difficult, Florida Today reports.

And even if they delay, can the schools really be ready? Miami-Dade County district officials have laid out eight key criteria that must be met to make in-person education a reality before the end of August, the Miami Herald reports.

If they don’t meet the criteria, it still might be hard to prove it. Palm Beach County school district leaders have made clear their plan to open online only, but the local health official won’t put in writing the recommendation she stated verbally, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Worried about what might happen when back to school? A local law firm is offering teachers a free living will, WFLA reports.

Fifth grader Payton Cracchiolo works on a school assignment during remote learning in spring 2020.
Fifth grader Payton Cracchiolo works on a school assignment during remote learning in spring 2020. [ Courtesy of Jim Cracchiolo ]

Online education is a great option. Teacher union leaders from ten central Florida counties call for a focus on distance learning for the first semester, the Daily Commercial reports.

Have you heard the word ‘fluid’ enough yet? Flagler County added a third choice for its families to its reopening plan, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • Volusia County district leaders remind the public that the details of their plan could change as more information becomes available, the News-Journal reports.

It’s gotten so that the word ‘reopening’ seems a bit wrong to some. Collier County district officials dumped the phrase ‘going back to school,’ favoring ‘moving forward’ to describe their four options, the Naples Daily News reports.

Next, parents need to pick, so their schools can prepare. Alachua County parents have until Sunday, the Gainesville Sun reports. • Marion County families can choose through July 22, and their selection will be good for only the first quarter, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

Will schools have enough cleaning supplies for those people who return? Lee County school budget planners worry that the cost will make a big dent in their already tight finances, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

Bay County’s superintendent faces pushback for recent comments about homosexuality. He says his views haven’t affected his treatment of children, WMBB reports.

St. Johns County really needs school bus drivers. It raised the hourly wage by 11 percent to help, WJAX reports.

Did you miss yesterday’s roundup? Here’s the link to fix that oversight.

Before you go ... DeSantis didn’t just speak about education at the Board of Education meeting. He also touched on the subject during his afternoon press conference in Tallahassee. You know you want to hear what he said. Click here, and skip ahead to the 26th minute to check it out.

Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference on Wednesday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference on Wednesday. [ Florida Channel ]