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Schools create coronavirus dashboards, despite state privacy claims

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

Well, Florida finished its first full week with all school districts open for business — most offering in-person classes along with remote options. We saw technical problems, lower than expected attendance and a number of quarantines, including a handful of schools shut down. In other words, about what we expected. Will the new week be any better? Pinellas County parents and teachers hope to make a difference by urging their School Board tonight to overhaul the “simultaneous teaching” model they dislike. Watch here. The Hillsborough School Board also meets. Watch here. Read on for the latest.

The Florida Department of Health said school COVID-19 results should remain confidential. Growing numbers of districts launched reporting dashboards, anyway, in the name of transparency. • Manatee County district officials said dashboards provided needed information without jeopardizing privacy, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Some campuses are returning to distance learning just days after showing up for classes. A Pasco County charter school closed its doors for a few days after a positive case, to allow time for a full cleaning. • An Orange County high school shut down for two weeks after six confirmed cases, WFTV reports. • A Brevard County elementary school extended its closure by nearly two weeks to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, Space Coast News reports. • A Citrus County private school canceled in-person classes for at least two weeks after multiple possible exposures to the virus, the Citrus County Chronicle reports. • One Polk County charter school closed down, with about a quarter of all district schools reporting at least one positive case after two weeks of classes, the Ledger reports.

As quarantines rise, are schools changing their cleaning methods? Only slightly, TC Palm reports.

Many children have not returned to school yet. Brevard County’s numbers are improving, but its enrollment remains thousands of students short of projections, Florida Today reports. • Orange County’s enrollment is about 18,000 less than expected, WKMG reports. Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said she did not play to lay off staff as a result, WMFE reports. • Polk County saw a drop of about 7,500 students, raising concerns about funding losses, the Ledger reports. • Lower than projected numbers could impact Sarasota County’s budget plans, the Herald-Tribune reports. • The Palm Beach County school district delayed its return to in-person classes to make more preparations, the Palm Beach Post reports. • Monroe County students return to campuses today, the Key West Citizen reports.

Thousands of students couldn’t get started. Volusia County’s online platform was overloaded and peppered with registration problems, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • Many Charlotte County students struggled to gain access to their virtual courses, WINK reports. • Miami-Dade County schools successfully held off more cyberattacks Friday, but other frustrations continued for the district’s online offerings, the Miami Herald reports.

Some families are getting creative, if they can. Several are trying home schooling and other options outside the public education system, WTSP reports. • They’re creating learning pods, hiring traveling teachers and taking other steps to keep their children learning and healthy, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • The Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World began offering “schoolcation” packages to families that can afford it, Fox Business reports.

Marissa Hernandez, 11, holds onto her mask while speaking to a reporter outside Burnett Middle School in Seffner on Monday, August 31, 2020. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

What happens if you refuse to wear a mask in school? Different districts have different rules, the Naples Daily News reports. • The Nassau County school district changed its policy to require face masks on people who previously used only shields, WJXT reports.

Teaching is really hard work these days. Many St. Johns County educators say they’re already exhausted trying to balance in-person and online classes, WTLV reports.

Time to go. Seminole County superintendent Walt Griffin announced his retirement plans, which are coming later than he wished because of the pandemic, WKMG reports.

Are you due a refund? Florida Prepaid has more than $225 million in unclaimed refunds after a recent pricing change, WJXT reports.

Maintaining older buildings is getting tougher. Marion County schools have less than half the money they require to keep up with needed repairs, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

The national debate over the role of law enforcement is coming to school systems. Some Orange County activists have called for a reduction in school resource officers, with more money spent on items such as mental health services, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

From the campaign trail ... Florida school board seats are nonpartisan, but that’s not stopped the Democrats from trying to sway the results. So far, their efforts are working, the USA Today Network reports. • Facing a challenge over his residency, Orange County School Board candidate Bruce Antone dropped out of the race, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

From the police blotter ... A Palm Beach County elementary school teacher faces multiple counts of possession of child pornography, WPEC reports. • A Duval County second-grade teacher faces federal charges relating to sexual exploitation of children, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Before you go ... I saw this shared by a high school principal, who clearly saw the need to convey this message. So I share. Maybe it will offer some needed perspective. Have a good day.