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Masks make a difference in school reopening plans

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

The debate over whether to require or encourage masks in schools continues to intensify, with the pro-mask group seeming to gain the upper hand in many communities. It probably helps that even the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is urging a return to classes in the fall, states plainly that “masks work.” The issue is reaching into elections, as well, with school board elections on tap in scant weeks. Read on for that and more Florida education news.

Mask policies are influencing family decisions whether to send their kids back to class. Three Hillsborough County parents are trying to convince district leaders to impose a mandate

The topic might sway voters, too. School board candidates around the Tampa Bay area have staked out their views on masks. Do they jibe with yours

‘Masks really do seem to work.’ That’s part of the reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics feels comfortable in advocating a return to in-person classes, the NY Times reports. 

Miami-Dade County district leaders got the message. They’ve dropped the ‘optional’ from their mask rule, the Miami Herald reports. 

Meanwhile, a steady rise in cases continues to impact schools in other ways. Hernando County seniors are among the latest to see their graduation plans nixed. • Lee County graduates also had their ceremonies cancelled, WBBH reports. • But not in Clay County, WJXT reports. 

High school sports might feel the pinch, too. The FHSAA is calling for a delay in the start of fall practice, the Naples Daily News reports. 

The virus trends have left many people unsure about how they’d like to proceed. Palm Beach County teachers say they want to get back to in-person classrooms, but they’re uncertain about when, the Palm Beach Post reports. • Leon County officials continue to debate the specifics, including a possible delay of classes, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Legend Royal, 7, climbs on the playground with his father Don Royal at Fair Oaks Park Community Center in Tampa on Friday, June 26, 2020. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Black Lives Matter protests have made it harder to ignore Black poverty. Leaders want government officials to do more to prevent another generation of Black children from losing more opportunities. Little has changed over the years in parts of Tampa and St. Petersburg. 

Some people want to make Black history classes a Florida college graduation requirement. So far, it’s just talk, Florida Phoenix reports. 

Continue the mission. Gov. DeSantis authorizes funding that provides a lifeline to Florida’s financially struggling historically Black colleges and universities, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. 

The lessons still need to be learned. A St. Lucie West Centennial High graduate wasn’t allowed to cross the stage at her commencement because of the Black Lives Matter decorations on her cap, WPEC reports. The superintendent has apologized.

Complaints are mounting that women at the University of South Florida have suffered sexual violence on campus. The president has launched an investigation

Also at USF ... The merger of the university’s three campuses into one is official. Branch campus leaders are hopeful the change will bring some benefits, the Herald-Tribune reports. 

About that veto of a $29 million online education program. Gov. DeSantis is now moving to keep Complete Florida afloat with other money, Politico Florida reports. It appears officials hadn’t realized the impact of the veto. 

Brevard County schools have among the highest discipline rates in Florida. The approach isn’t leading to improved behavior, Florida Today reports. 

Palm Beach County schools have a new inspector general. She’s a longtime government investigator, the Palm Beach Post reports. 

The interviews are complete. Now the candidates for Sarasota County’s superintendent job wait, the Herald-Tribune reports. 

Volusia County needs an interim superintendent. Recently appointed Scott Fritz is taking a medical leave for cancer treatment, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. 

Miss a story? You can always take another look at yesterday’s roundup

Before you go ... Addison Davis has been on the job as Hillsborough County superintendent of schools since March, taking the lead (and the heat) for all sorts of things. Yet believe it or not, that was all in an interim capacity. Wednesday was his official first day as the formal leader of the nation’s seventh largest school district. And some employees took to social media to make sure he (and we) remembered.

Join our daily Facebook conversation to share your views. And be sure to share this roundup with your friends and colleagues. Know someone who might want to sign up for the Gradebook newsletter? Share this link. Masks? Or no masks? Send an e-mail to jsolochek@tampabay.com. - Jeff

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