Gauging financial impact: The state economists who make up the Revenue Estimating Conference should meet quickly to assess the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the state’s tax revenues, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said. “The financial projections for our state have dramatically changed from what they were at the beginning of the FY 2021 budget-making process,” he wrote in a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis asking for an early review of whether there will be enough revenue to pay for the $93.2 billion budget the Legislature passed last week. Included in the budget was $300 million in reserves, bringing the total of those funds to $3.9 billion, and $22.7 billion for education. News Service of Florida. WMBB.
Economic stimulus package: Congressional leaders said late last night that progress is being made on a nearly $2 trillion coronavirus aid package, and they’re optimistic a deal can be reached today. The optimism came during a long day of negotiations after Democrats again voted against the aid package, arguing that Republicans wrote it in a way that helps big businesses more than the average American. Republicans accused Democrats of using the crisis to try to include some pet projects that have nothing to do with the crisis, such as added environmental regulations. They pounced on a statement by Rep. James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, who reportedly told other Democrats that the aid package was “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” Generally, the bill would provide checks to Americans, $20 billion to help schools cope with the disruption caused by the virus, expand President Trump’s suspension of federal student loan payments, and restrict U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ authority to waive federal testing for students. Associated Press. Washington Post. Educators say more money from the stimulus package should go into education. Education Week.
No stay-at-home order: Schools, parks, restaurants, bars and more are closed because of the coronavirus, but Gov. DeSantis said on Monday he’s reluctant to order the kind of near-total statewide shutdown of nonessential businesses and bans on social gatherings that California, New York, Illinois and other states have imposed, and that several mayors around the state have urged. “Given our circumstances, it isn’t advisable. It’s a blunt instrument,” he said. Associated Press. Florida Phoenix. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. USA Today Network. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel.
Online problems: Day 1 of online classes brought some not unexpected problems for the 130,000 students in the Duval County School District. Students had trouble logging into the Duval HomeRoom website, and trouble loading documents, and trouble getting help for their troubles. School officials expect the problems to be smoothed out as everyone gets familiar with a new way of learning. “It’s a little strange, but it was easier than I was expecting to communicate with teachers, to keep up with everything else,” said student Peter Baruch. “It’s going smoother than I thought it would be.” WJXT. WTLV. Sumter County also began online instruction Monday. The biggest problem reported was the lack of Internet service for some students. Many had to go to a wifi hot spot at a school to download their assignments to their laptops, or from one of 10 school buses that are delivering meals. WKMG. In Hillsborough County, where remote classes begin March 30, the preparation on Monday was delayed when the online learning system, Edsby, would not launch for more than two hours because of a database management software issue. It was Addison Davis’ first day as superintendent, and he spent much of it reassuring teachers and parents. “We know that this is a trying time in education, one that is uncharted,” he said. “I want everyone to understand that while our classrooms remain closed, learning is open.” Tampa Bay Times. WFTS. WTVT. WUSF.
Online preparations: The Volusia County School District’s instructional plan while schools are closed combines online instruction and work on paper lessons for four hours a day. Starting next week, about an hour a day will be devoted to each of the four core subject areas: English language arts, math, science and social studies. There will be assignments that students will have to turn in to be graded. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Meanwhile, districts continue to make preparations to hold online classes for students, from creating a system to training teachers, and making sure students have laptops and home Internet access or providing students lessons to complete, or both. WUSF. Florida Times-Union. WJXT. Northwest Florida Daily News. Space Coast Daily. St. Augustine Record. WJXT. Citrus County Chronicle. WFSU. WMFE. Panama City News Herald. WTSP. WINK. Palatka Daily News. Republican Sen. Rick Scott has asked U.S. Education Secretary DeVos about best practices for online instructions and how Florida schools can make the transition. Florida Politics. Education about child abuse and bullying are following the rest of education online, with the Monique Burr Foundation offering its curriculum over the Internet for the rest of the school year. Florida Politics.
More on the coronavirus: Manatee County teachers were told to report to their schools Monday, but Lakewood Ranch High School’s have been asked to stay home because someone who had contact at the school in the past 11 days may have contracted coronavirus. WWSB. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Bradenton Herald. Students talk about how they’re coping with the pandemic, and what it’s meant to them. “We’re the coronavirus generation,” said Kenneth Greene, a senior at Lawton Chiles High School in Leon County. Tallahassee Democrat. A new national survey indicates that school districts are focusing on the basic needs of students such as food and are struggling through a conversion to distance learning without detailed plans. The 74. Here’s what U.S. school districts are doing to deal with the pandemic. The 74. Teachers bring “parades of smiles” to their students with car caravans. Tallahassee Democrat. WJXT. WTVT. Today. More districts and other organizations announce plans to continue feeding low-income students while schools are closed. Florida Department of Agriculture. Florida Department of Education. Education Dive. Palm Beach Post. Bradenton Herald. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. Tampa Bay Times. WTVT. WESH. Fort Myers News-Press. WINK. Space Coast Daily. Tallahassee Democrat. WCTV. WUWF. WMFE. Daily Commercial. Tampa Bay Times. Tallahassee Democrat. WMFE. WTXL. WMBB. Questions and answers about the coronavirus, guidance for school districts and a glossary. Florida Department of Health. Florida Department of Education. Orlando Sentinel. TCPalm. The CDC’s latest guidance for K-12 schools. Education Dive.
Virtual board meeting: Lee County School Board members will hold their first virtual meeting at 1 p.m. today to discuss public health and the school district’s response to guidance on gatherings and social distances. The board will follow advice from Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Board of Education on how to legally hold the call-in meeting. It won’t be an interactive session, but it will be shown later on the district’s YouTube channel. Fort Myers News-Press.
Notable deaths: Diane McCorry, a teacher at Barton Elementary School in Boynton Beach, was killed in a murder-suicide over the weekend. Police told her family that the man she was living with killed her, then himself. Palm Beach Post.
Vaping and students: More than 25 percent of high school students and 9 percent of middle-schoolers used e-cigarettes in 2019, according to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. So a bill that passed through the Legislature will have an impact on students and in schools if Gov. DeSantis signs it into law. The bill treats all electronic nicotine products, such as vapes, the same as tobacco products and raises the minimum purchasing age to 21. Florida Phoenix.
Opinions on schools: Our state is in danger of being overrun by the coronavirus unless Gov. DeSantis takes more drastic action to reduce community spread — now. Palm Beach Post. As the number of coronavirus cases rise in Florida and Tampa Bay, state and local officials should avoid an emotional response and be clear-eyed about the impact of sweeping stay-at-home orders. Tampa Bay Times. Among the doom and gloom of the coronavirus pandemic, there is some good news. Matthew Ladner, redefinED.
Student enrichment: Banyan Elementary School in Sunrise has received $10,000 worth of school supplies from a newly opened Burlington Store. Sun Sentinel.