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To report or not report coronavirus cases? That’s the question for Florida schools.

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Donovan Steen, 8, and Shaya Steen, 6, get their temperature checked by Hillel Academy Head of School Allison Oakes as they arrive for the first day of the school year in Tampa.
Donovan Steen, 8, and Shaya Steen, 6, get their temperature checked by Hillel Academy Head of School Allison Oakes as they arrive for the first day of the school year in Tampa. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Sep. 11, 2020
Updated Sep. 11, 2020

Coronavirus cases are arising at schools. To learn about them, at least anecdotally, all one must do is scroll through Facebook and Twitter, where parents and teachers quickly report the incidents at their own campuses. Yet when it comes to getting accurate details from the powers that be, all bets are off. It really depends on which district you’re looking at, and how much its leaders are willing to ignore state suggestions to keep the information private. It’s pretty clear by now that parents want to know. Read on for the latest.

There’s a battle brewing over COVID-19 case reporting. Classrooms are quarantining and schools are closing. A Pinellas County Christian school is among the latest to send its students home to allow for a deep clean after two confirmed cases. • But not all cases are treated equally. While some districts don’t disclose anything, others are openly defying the DeSantis administration’s wish to have the information remain confidential, Politico Florida reports. • The Manatee County school district is among the latest to pledge to release more information publicly, the Bradenton Herald reports. • Sensing an opening, the Florida Education Association — already in the middle of a lawsuit challenging the state’s reopening order — launched a new 30-second ad blasting DeSantis and his team for its lack of transparency, Florida Politics reports. • Parents deserve the information, the Orlando Sentinel editorializes.

How frustrating is the data battle for parents and students? One Clay County parent demanded answers as her freshman daughter was quarantined after one day in classes, WJXT reports. Clay County is a holdout in providing coronavirus reports to the community. “It was scary for us, and it was also upsetting because the school never contacted us,” the parent told the news station.

Doctors are underwhelmed, as well. A group of physicians said schools throughout Florida should not be open until rapid virus testing and results are available to help ensure students and staff do not spread the disease, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Is there really a mass exodus of teachers because of virus-related concerns? The statistics say no, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • That doesn’t mean everyone is sticking around. Thirty-six Leon County teachers have resigned, and the district is struggling to hire, WTXL reports.

Teachers do have concerns over working conditions during the pandemic, though. In Pasco County, the union is pushing for new rules relating to unmasked breakfast eating in classrooms. • Miami-Dade County teachers scrambled to remake lessons overnight after their School Board dropped the district’s ineffective online platform, the Miami Herald reports. • Palm Beach County School Board members are demanding a better process for handling employee requests to work remotely, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Some teachers are leaving their jobs for other reasons. Low pay is one of those. The Hernando County school district is asking voters to increase the local property tax rate to help raise added money for raises. • The state might not be able to help much. The latest revenue projections show a $3.4 billion shortfall this year, and another $2 billion shortfall for next year.

Third grade teacher Nancy Richie high fives Mareli Binuelo-Cruz as she completes a reading level at the school.
Third grade teacher Nancy Richie high fives Mareli Binuelo-Cruz as she completes a reading level at the school.

It’s no secret that many Florida third graders can’t read at grade level. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has created a database to help identify the schools with the lowest performance by region and ZIP code, WJCT reports. The goal is to get nearby businesses to support those campuses. More from WLRN.

Black school administrators can serve as positive role models for Black youth. The Leon County school district has become a state leader in providing diversity in leadership, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Why are Florida universities still requiring the ACT or SAT for admission? Pressure is mounting for the state to join the test-optional stance that most others have adopted while the exams remain unaccessible during the coronavirus pandemic, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The legal costs of fighting the state’s school reopening lawsuit continue to mount. The bills to taxpayers are approaching $1 million, WFTS reports.

And then there were four. One finalist for the Martin County superintendent job withdrew, TC Palm reports.

Experts often say children don’t learn well when they don’t feel well. The Manatee County school district has added a school-based health center at Manatee Elementary to provide needed services to students and the surrounding community, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Show them the diversity. The University of South Florida’s College of Arts and Sciences diversity panel resigned in frustration, saying the school leadership was not acting with urgency.

Did you miss a story? Here’s the link to yesterday’s roundup, just in case.

Before you go ... Here’s that FEA ad, if you’d like to watch it.