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Even if they open later in August, are schools ready?

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Practicing proper hygiene, like washing hands thoroughly, will be a regular feature of returning to in-person schooling. [Shutterstock]
Practicing proper hygiene, like washing hands thoroughly, will be a regular feature of returning to in-person schooling. [Shutterstock] [ Shutterstock ]
Published Jul. 17, 2020

Okay. We get it. Schools will offer in-person and at-home learning options for students in the coming academic year. But what exactly does that mean? Parents have been inundating their districts with questions seeking specifics so they can make their decisions. The answers are slowly emerging (and changing). Read on for that and more Florida education news. • If you don’t find this news roundup next week, think about its writer taking a long needed vacation. But never fear. The news will still be reported on tampabay.com, and we’ll return to the roundups recharged.

Hillsborough County’s workshop on reopening drew a big online audience to hear the latest from the nation’s seventh largest district. Board members said the details were more helpful than what they had heard in the past. Some still wanted to take a more aggressive stance. Part of their concern: A surge of COVID-19 cases.

Some districts want more time to prepare. The Volusia County School Board is looking at a delay in starting of one to two weeks, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • The Alachua County school district resets its student calendar back by two weeks, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Some don’t. Gulf County schools are moving ahead with their calendar and class schedules as usual, the Port St. Joe Star reports.

Here’s an interesting possibility. Marion County schools won’t open their doors until at least Aug. 24, but might start online education earlier, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

Try, try again. The Duval County School Board puts off voting on its proposed reopening plan, prompting the superintendent to rescind it, the Florida Times-Union reports. • The Orange County School Board will gather Friday morning to continue its debate, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

‘Wait until it’s safe.' Escambia parents, teachers and supporters rally in favor of keeping school buildings closed longer, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. • Some Leon County teachers say they fear returning to classrooms, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. • One Pinellas teacher’s take: Reopening isn’t so much about children’s education as it is about parents’ work.

Meanwhile, the White House says President Trump won’t let ‘science stand in the way’ of schools opening. Read about it in the Daily Mail.

Masks have become a symbol for the Class of 2020 graduation ceremonies — if schools hold them at all.
Masks have become a symbol for the Class of 2020 graduation ceremonies — if schools hold them at all. [ WILFREDO LEE | AP ]

Manatee County still plans in-person graduation ceremonies. Face masks and social distancing will be required, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Polk County politics take hold in a hot school board election campaign. A former Lakeland mayor, who is black, accuses incumbent Billy Townsend, who is white, of being racist, the Ledger reports. The ex-mayor’s wife sits on the board and often spars with Townsend.

Stop intolerance. That’s what graduates of a Citrus County Christian school are demanding of their alma mater, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

It’s a tough job. New Sarasota County superintendent Brennan Asplen plans to rely on ‘servant leadership’ to bring harmony back to the district, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Martin County is still looking for its next superintendent. Forty-two candidates applied, TC Palm reports.

In the courts ... The Broward County school district joins a growing lawsuit against vape makers, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Did you miss any stories? Here’s the link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... There’s been a lot of debate — some heated — about mask mandates, and their role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. School districts across the state have begun to adopt them, saying they want to use education to help skeptics understand the reasoning. The Collier County school district turned to the medical director of a local hospital to help in that effort. Here’s what he had to say.

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. Are we missing something in this reopening debate? Send an e-mail to jsolochek@tampabay.com. - Jeff