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Quarantines rise as coronavirus turns up in schools

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Students arrive at Burnett Middle School in Seffner on Monday, August 31, 2020. Hillsborough County reopened campuses today after starting the school year online for the first week and giving students the option to continue eLearning.
Students arrive at Burnett Middle School in Seffner on Monday, August 31, 2020. Hillsborough County reopened campuses today after starting the school year online for the first week and giving students the option to continue eLearning. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Sep. 2, 2020
Updated Sep. 2, 2020

Florida continued its first week with all its school districts open, under the new normal that people have come to expect — classroom quarantines, remote learning technology woes and efforts to get sports teams going without getting anyone sick. How long will this go on? With a dump of backlogged case results flooding the data, it’s not so easy to tell. Some educators and families are already fed up. Read on for the latest.

Never mind the state’s push to keep kids in schools. Districts continue to quarantine students and staff as coronavirus cases emerge. • Pasco County reported four new cases. • Pinellas schools closed down eight classrooms, Florida Politics reports. • Brevard County shut down one elementary school for three days, effective immediately, to avoid spreading the illness, Space Coast Daily reports. • More than 100 students were sent home from Manatee County’s Palmetto High after being exposed to a teacher who tested positive, the Bradenton Herald reports. • Cases continued to rise in Polk County, the Ledger reports. • Walton County had few cases, with 80 percent of its students in the schools, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports. • Duval County schools stopped reporting their numbers, but local doctors have encouraged them to restart the practice, WJXT reports. • A Leon County principal is urging his district to be transparent about cases, too, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

As classrooms close, schools need backup plans. Central Florida districts are seeking more substitute teachers, just in case, WKMG reports. • About a quarter of Brevard County schools have no nurses, Florida Today reports.

Some students are simply not showing up. About 6,000 enrolled Sarasota County children were absent the first day of classes, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Duval County schools have about four times the number of “missing” students this year compared to last, WJAX reports. • A group of Leon County students is urging peers to learn from home, WFSU reports.

Some are standing too close together. Photos from inside Volusia and Flagler schools showing students congregating together have gone viral. District officials note the students were wearing masks, and say they were dispersed as quickly as possible, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • A similar safety concern arose over a photo of about 80 senior girls at a St. Johns County high school, the St. Augustine Record reports.

Crashes continued. The second day of online instruction in Miami-Dade County didn’t go much better than the first, the Miami Herald reports. A cyberattack added to the district’s woes, the Herald reports.

Meanwhile, Palm Beach County officials sought to get out of pandemic Phase 1. That would mean the reopening of schools for in-person classes, the Palm Beach Post reports. Parents would choose whether to send their kids, WPTV reports.

Nobody said this would be easy. A Fort Myers News-Press reporter offers her first-person account of life with remote schooling for her kids. • Teachers at a Flagler County high school asked to convert Fridays into enrichment and planning days, saying their current instructional plan is too difficult, Flagler Live reports. • Duval County schools are reconsidering their plans to end hybrid schedules in mid-September, WJXT reports.

Seating will be limited to 25 percent of capacity at Pinellas County high school football games this fall.
Seating will be limited to 25 percent of capacity at Pinellas County high school football games this fall. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

High school football is getting back on track. To keep it safe, districts are limiting crowd sizes for games. Pinellas County schools will allow in only 25 percent of the stadium capacity, with games aired on NFHS (for a fee) if you want to watch and can’t get in. No spectators will be allowed for volleyball and swimming through at least Sept. 18. • Pasco County high schools announced they would allow “limited” seating, to be determined school by school. Tickets will be sold online, and visiting teams will be guaranteed some space to attend. • A St. Lucie County high school called off its football practices for a “COVID-related” reason, TC Palm reports.

Many teens still need an SAT or ACT score to be eligible for Bright Futures scholarships. Gov. DeSantis extended the deadline after another round of the exams was canceled because of coronavirus concerns.

Protective gear is required on campus. The Lee County School Board has adopted a temporary rule to follow health officials’ instructions for masks and other equipment, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

The Florida Education Association’s president is moving on. Fed Ingram resigned his post to take a national leadership role at the American Federation of Teachers.

Pasco County plans to open a new school next fall. That means it’s time for attendance zone revisions now.

There’s a new superintendent in town. The Escambia County School Board selected Orange County administrator Tim Smith to become its first appointed chief executive, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

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

Before you go ... It’s just not fall without some marching band going on. Even with masks, the Florida State Marching Chiefs are getting ready. Since they posted on Facebook, they get the attention. (Don’t @ me just because you’re a Gator fan, okay?)

Hey Florida State Seminoles, get excited. The band is back together. Soak in the first War Chant of the season. See you...

Posted by Marching Chiefs on Friday, August 28, 2020