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Unknowns trouble teachers, parents as they plan for school

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

So much is being said about COVID-19 and how it might affect children and schools. It’s become such that people don’t necessarily know what to believe. Yet parents want facts to guide them as they decide what to do when classes resume. (Pinellas County families saw their deadline pass on Monday.) Wouldn’t it be nice to have a fact checker to help out? Read on for what they’re finding about some of the latest claims. Then continue on for more Florida education news.

President Trump (among others) has claimed that students don’t catch the virus easily, and they don’t spread it much, either. PolitiFact finds a much more complicated scenario at play.

School districts are still taking precautions. The Pinellas and Pasco boards meet today to formally consider delaying the start of classes, with Pasco also reviewing its proposed mask mandate. The Hillsborough board, meanwhile, takes up a contract to renew its Zoom contract for online learning, as well as an agreement to place athletic trainers at all high schools. The boards have budget discussions scheduled, too. • The Palm Beach County board is poised to spend millions to get technology into student hands for continued distance learning, the Palm Beach Post reports. • Flagler County students would see shortened breaks if their district alters its calendar, Flagler Live reports.

Changing start dates carries consequences. One of those is missed paychecks. That prompted the Orange County school district to revise its plan to delay by two weeks, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Uncertainty continues among parents. Volusia County offered families more time to pick a schooling option, after less than 15 percent responded to the district’s survey, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • In Sarasota County, a district survey showed lower-income families were more leery of in-person classes than their more affluent counterparts, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Teachers, too. The president of Marion County’s Education Association worries about all the unknowns still at play in returning to campus in August, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. • Collier County educators and other school employees face pressure to decide whether they’ll come back, the Naples Daily News reports. • A group of Duval County teachers and parents rallied Monday to urge their district to revamp its reopening plan, the Florida Times-Union reports. • A popular Santa Rosa County educator and coach passes away from COVID-19, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. • The Broward County school district’s reaction to the issue: It told teachers not to talk about anyone in the district who tested positive, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Krista Schilling, center, an art teacher at John Hopkins Middle School, St. Petersburg joined other teachers and supporters at the Pinellas County School District headquarters, Largo, Tuesday, July 14, 2020 in support of not returning to the classroom this fall because of the Coronavirus. School board members are discussing the plan today. "I'm very concerned about teaching inside a closed classroom and physically coming in contact with many students," said Schilling. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

University faculty share the concerns of their K-12 counterparts. They’ve called for an online-only semester start for the fall.

Some officials like that idea. A Leon County School Board member is pushing for campuses to remain closed to start the year, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. The Leon board chair has called for the district to appoint a chief medical officer to advise the district moving forward, WCTV reports.

At the federal level, though, physical reopening has staying power. The latest measure coming out of the U.S. Senate ties most coronavirus relief funding to holding in-person classes, Education Week reports.

The conversation has baffled those who are looking at other possible indicators. Florida’s death toll from the coronavirus has exceeded 6,000. The COVID-19 spread among children has grown, Florida Politics reports. And efforts to revive professional sports haven’t necessarily gone so well.

The kickoff of high school sports has been delayed. Seven west-central Florida school districts are considering creation of a coalition to prepare for a return to the field together.

Social distancing and masks have become the new normal for delayed graduation ceremonies. The latest took place in Manatee County, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Welcome to the school district. New Lee County teachers put on a mask, get a drive by greeting and receive their orientation online, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

From the campaign trail ... Candidates for Pinellas District 1 say the district has done a good job with its COVID-19 response, but could improve in other important ways.

What’s in a name? An Alachua County community debates a new name for an elementary school that bears a Confederate general’s name, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Did you miss a story? Check out yesterday’s roundup for another look.

Before you go ... How are you feeling about the upcoming school year? Principal/humorist Gerry Brooks says he can’t express his feelings in song, a la Taylor Swift. But he can do it using items from Dollars Tree as props. Does he hit the mark?

Dollars Tree bologna

I’m Dollars Tree bologna...how about you?

Posted by Gerry Brooks on Thursday, July 23, 2020

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. Have we missed something? Let us know by sending an e-mail to jsolochek@tampabay.com. - Jeff

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