As another round of schools across Florida welcome students back to classes this week, a big question looms over the state’s reopening: Will mediation between lawyers for the Governor’s Office and the Florida Education Association yield results that can satisfy two sides with very different agendas? It might seem unlikely, with education commissioner Richard Corcoran repeatedly having called the union’s lawsuit “frivolous.” But Leon County Judge Charles Dodson, whom Corcoran labeled “progressive” in a conversation with superintendents, has strongly encouraged the sides to look for common ground. If they can’t find any, he’s ready to begin hearings Wednesday morning on the FEA’s push to stop Corcoran’s reopening order. Have you decided what to do with your kids yet?
“This is a case that cries out for the parties to come together.” Judge Dodson denied the state’s motion to dismiss the union’s complaint during a 90-minute hearing, where he also ordered mediation. Late Sunday, the sides turned to Twitter to draw their lines in the sand.
With the state’s order in force, the Hillsborough school district abandoned its plan to keep classrooms closed for four weeks. Some School Board members were livid with the superintendent for making that decision without calling a meeting for them to vote on it.
When in-person learning resumes, the Hillsborough district will require students, staff and visitors to wear masks. A group of families has sued to kill the mask mandate. • Facing pushback over facial covering requirements, the Manatee County School Board added several exceptions to its policy, the Bradenton Herald reports.
Children staying home for online instruction in Pinellas County expected to have their own separate classes. Instead, they’re finding at-home and in-person students mixed into the same groups. Many teachers and parents aren’t happy about it.
Just because your child starts the year on campus, it doesn’t mean things will stay that way. Martin County, which resumed school last Tuesday, continued to quarantine a growing number of classes after teachers and students reported virus symptoms, TC Palm reports. Martin parents said they’re worried for their teachers, WPTV reports. • The Bradford County school district reported its first positive case after three days of classes, WJXT reports. • Many eyes are on Manatee County, where four schools reported positive cases during teacher training, as students return this week, the Herald-Tribune reports. More than 130 children in Manatee have reported positive cases in the past two weeks, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Seminole County schools also open Monday, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Medical experts have recommended careful consideration when reopening classrooms. In Orange County, they suggested middle and high school students return later than elementary children, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Don’t even think about prekindergarten, though. The state has said it won’t allow distance learning for VPK, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. Many child care centers never closed, the St. Augustine Record reports.
Keep washing your hands. That’s one of the key strategies to keeping the virus at bay, experts have told us. One Volusia County teacher turned to seeking donations get get a stand-alone sink for her portable classroom, which has no plumbing, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.
What’s a parent to do? It’s an even more difficult decision for homeless families, the Florida Times-Union reports.
What about the college campuses? The University of Central Florida saw its positive numbers rise as students moved back into dorms, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
As far as the state is concerned, it’s time to get back to normal. That includes spring testing, Florida Phoenix reports.
An enrollment decline led the Santa Rosa County school district to lay off teachers. Protests ensued, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.
From the police blotter ... A Marion County high school teacher’s aid was arrested on allegations of having sex with a student, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.
Before you go ... Despite the many challenges of the new academic year, teachers are working to remain positive for their students. Some are getting awfully creative. Here’s one meet the teacher video from Georgia that has been making the social media rounds. Maybe it will inspire others. So here it is.