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State to argue school opening case, as students continue to return

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Leon County Judge Charles Dodson is charged with overseeing the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida's school reopening order.
Leon County Judge Charles Dodson is charged with overseeing the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida's school reopening order. [ 2nd Judicial Circuit of Florida ]
Published Aug. 20, 2020

So did you sit in for the full eight hours of testimony in the lawsuit challenging Florida’s school reopening order? If only a single story could do justice to the compelling testimony provided by teachers fearful for their lives if they return to classrooms, and by doctors explaining the inevitable resurgence of a spreading virus if in-person learning resumes as planned. Here’s our Twitter thread of the day’s events, if you want a glimpse into the play by play. Today promises more of the same, but from the other side. Expect to hear from teachers who want to go back and believe many students need to be there, plus doctors talking about the detriments of continued isolation away from school. The target is one judge, who has to decide whether to issue an injunction against the state order. But thousands of people are watching across Florida as the arguments play out online — a point not lost on those who feel forced to go back to campus while lawyers debate from a distance. Stay tuned.

Worried about schools reopening? Day One of the injunction hearing aimed to solidify that perspective with facts from the field presented by doctors and educators. • The Alachua County Education Association joined the suit as a plaintiff, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Some are counting cases. Two days after reopening, three Manatee County schools reported positive COVID-19 cases, Bay News 9 reports. Messages went home to families, but details were limited, the Bradenton Herald reports. • Nearly 600 Miami-Dade County school employees tested positive between March and July, the Miami Herald reports. • The Duval County school district and city of Jacksonville are partnering to provide rapid virus testing to school district workers, the Florida Times-Union reports. • The Department of Education released its Power Point going over the guidelines for responding to cases that commissioner Richard Corcoran discussed with superintendents a week earlier, the News Service of Florida reports.

Parents want to know if cases arise in their children’s schools. The Palm Beach County school district won’t commit to releasing that information, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Broward County students started classes on Wednesday. From pods and home offices, it was a most unusual first day of school, the Sun-Sentinel reports. As you might expect, some technical difficulties occurred, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Citrus County students head back on Thursday, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

With everyone arriving, schools need more personal protection equipment. District officials across the state say they are looking for money to pay for it, WFTS reports. • The Volusia County school district updated its mask policy to require them in classrooms when students cannot keep social distance or stay behind a plexiglass divider, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Wanted: Missing laptops. About 1,600 laptops loaned to Brevard County students for distance learning have yet to be returned, Florida Today reports.

Students across Florida checked out school technology in the spring for at-home use. Some have not yet returned the equipment.
Students across Florida checked out school technology in the spring for at-home use. Some have not yet returned the equipment. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

‘I am not going to be negative.’ No-party candidate for Pasco schools superintendent Cynthia Thompson she doesn’t plan to repeat the attacks that the Republican challenger lobbed against incumbent Kurt Browning during the primary.

Escambia County continues to look for its next appointed superintendent. The field is now down to four, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Find a new school. One week before the start of classes, a judge ordered closed a troubled Brevard County charter school, Florida Today reports.

Another tax referendum passes. Collier County voters authorized the school district to move capital projects revenue into general operations if necessary, the Naples Daily News reports.

From the police blotter ... A Duval County teacher was arrested on 25 counts of child pornography, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... The titan arum is the world’s largest unbranched cluster of flowers, growing as high as 10 feet tall. Soon after blooming, which happens once every seven to 10 years, it gives off the odor of rotting flesh. Hence its nickname the corpse flower. One is in bloom now at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. Wanna see? (Be glad it’s not scratch and sniff!)