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Reopening school in the great outdoors as a coronavirus response

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

When it’s not raining in the Sunshine State, it can be a beautiful place to spend time outdoors. And, some experts have said, being outside presents fewer risks for the coronavirus than being in close quarters with recirculated air. So how can you not at least appreciate the effort Eckerd College is putting into its reopening plans for the fall? Read on for that and the rest of today’s Florida education news.

Eckerd plans to cycle students onto campus slowly, with a focus on outdoor classes. School leaders have identified 51 sites across the campus for that purpose. Hope it doesn’t rain. • Some children of migrant farm workers in the Panhandle have been taking courses outdoors all summer, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Summer break is now officially longer for kids across Florida. So, too, is the summer feeding program that districts have provided to families in need.

Teacher strikes are illegal in Florida. They’re likely to happen, though, as educators protest working conditions during the coronavirus return to school, AFT president Randi Weingarten told Politico. • The Orange County teachers union has filed suit against its district, claiming the administration did not negotiate reopening work conditions in good faith, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Who’s coming back to school? More than half of Lake County students are expected to attend virtually, the Daily Commercial reports. • Polk County families get more time to indicate their choice, the Ledger reports. • One Brevard County School Board member is urging families to choose online education if they can, Florida Today reports.

Local districts control when schools reopen. That’s what the Department of Education told the Orange County district, stating that a waiver from its reopening order is unneeded, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The Alachua County school district is buying buses to reduce crowding on its routes. The goal is to have just one child per seat.
The Alachua County school district is buying buses to reduce crowding on its routes. The goal is to have just one child per seat. [ PAUL GUZZO | Times ]

Get on the bus? The Alachua County school district has ordered 80 more buses to reduce ridership on each, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Seniors and their families really wanted those in-person graduation ceremonies. Another 1,200 people in Brevard County face quarantine after learning that attendees at two high schools’ activities tested positive for COVID-19, Florida Today reports. The Brevard School Board has now mandated masks for students, staff and visitors, Florida Today reports.

About that memo telling Broward County school employees not to talk about COVID-19 cases in the schools. Never mind, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

The budget remains in flux. Volusia County school district leaders are contending with coronavirus funding concerns on top of a deficit, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • The Palm Beach County school district’s chief financial officer worries about the toll the pandemic will take on the budget, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Times are tough. Bay County teachers will get a cost-of-living stipend to help them through, the Panama City News Herald reports. It’s money remaining from the last time their district experienced a disaster.

‘This is just creepy to me.’ Some parents take issue with a Manatee County school district video depicting what classes might look like when campuses reopen, BuzzFeed reports.

Who’s not talking about school reopening these days? Seems like the biggest topic on so many minds. So we made a podcast about it. Check it out.

This was supposed to be their first contract. The new faculty union at Pasco-Hernando State College has declared impasse in their negotiations.

Some people want Florida to suspend student testing for another year. Former governor Jeb Bush is not among them, WLRN reports.

We want our SAT. Florida teens are still fighting to get an extra opportunity to take the SAT exam and have their scores counted toward a 2020-21 Bright Futures Scholarship, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

From the campaign trail ... Candidates for Pinellas School Board District 7 discuss three things the school system does well, and areas where it could improve. • A candidate for Miami-Dade School Board faces scrutiny for his checkered past as a teacher, Florida Politics reports.

From the National Hurricane Center ... It’s Hurricane Isaias now.

Did you miss a story? Yesterday’s news roundup is a click away.

Before you go ... In a growing number of Florida school districts, masks are mandatory for children who return to classrooms in August. Some schools are suggesting that especially the younger ones start practicing their use now. Here’s what one Hillsborough elementary school shared with its families on its Facebook page.

Three and a half weeks until students return to school. There is no time better than the present to practice mask wearing.

Posted by Schwarzkopf Elementary School PTA on Wednesday, July 29, 2020

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