Trump advises schools to remain closed for now, school arrest policies, graduations and more

The Trump reopening plan: President Trump has released his recommended three-phased approach on how to start reopening the country for business, state by state, with some beginning right now and others within a month or so. The guidelines, which include keeping most schools closed during the first phase, are not mandatory. Trump told governors that it will be their decisions on how and when to reopen their states. The guidance calls for a “downward trajectory” in coronavirus cases to be present for two weeks before starting each phase. The first phase calls for schools that are now closed to remain so, and for employees from all industries to continue working from home if they can. States are urged to have screening and testing sites readily available, and to encourage residents to maintain social distancing, consider wearing masks in public and wash their hands frequently. Some restaurants, movie theaters and gyms could reopen, but with maintained social distancing and temperature checks of employees. Phases 2 and 3 would gradually relax those restrictions. Associated Press. CNN. Politico. Bloomberg. New York Times. Washington Post. Wall Street Journal. USA Today. Scripps. Education Week. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said his task force on reopening the state meets for the first time today, with a goal of having a plan next week. He has yet to announce who’s on the team. Palm Beach Post. WFSU. American schools may look radically different when they do reopen, possibly with staggered schedules, smaller classes and less assembling in large groups. Associated Press. Five tips for helping students make the adjustment when they do return to schools. Chalkbeat.

School arrest policies: An investigation of arrests made at schools in four central Florida counties reveals a patchwork of policies that differ from district to district and school to school, and suggests that the chances of your child being arrested depend on where you live. Three times as many students in Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties were arrested last year as in Miami-Dade County, which has about the same number of students 10 to 17. And black students stand a greater risk of being arrested than their peers, the data show. Alternatives to arrests are available, but their use varies widely. “When one child is getting a civil citation in one county and then another child is getting arrested in the next [county] for the exact same crime … it becomes difficult to make an argument for the use of civil citation,” said Christian Minor, executive director of the Florida Juvenile Justice Association. Orlando Sentinel.

Graduation ceremonies: The St. Lucie County School District becomes the second system this week to announce that graduation ceremonies will be held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. The ceremonies for the eight St. Lucie County high schools will be held May 26-28 and, like the ones in Palm Beach County, will be broadcast on the district’s webpage and on various TV channels. “Although we are disappointed that we will not be able to hold our traditional graduations in May, we are committed to commemorating this very special occasion in a unique and memorable way,” said Superintendent Wayne Gent. TCPalm. Indian River Charter High School has moved its graduation ceremony from May 16 to June 27. The county’s public high schools, Vero Beach and Sebastian River, had earlier reset their ceremonies for June 12 and 13, respectively. TCPalm.

Online learning, after a month: One month into the new era of online education, teachers and school districts are making headway on providing substantive classes and monitoring student progress, according to analysis by two Washington state researchers. But they’re still struggling to figure out the best ways to take attendance and issue grades. Other takeaways from the study: remote learning plans differ from region to region and often district to district, charter management organizations seem more likely than the districts to provide comprehensive remote learning plans, very few schools provide real-time lessons, well under 50 percent of schools are grading students’ work, and more than 20 percent of districts are setting overall expectations but leaving at least some teaching decisions to schools and teachers. The 74.

Test changes, equity issues? The possibility of students taking the SAT and ACT tests at home because of the pandemic is drawing concerns from critics about the disadvantages for low-income students and the integrity of the tests. “Will offering students the opportunity to take an exam at home further advantage children from privileged families, who already average significantly higher scores than their disadvantaged peers on admissions test?” asked Bob Schaeffer of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing. Tampa Bay Times.

More on the coronavirus: Some experts said the closing of schools because of the coronavirus has led to an underreporting of child abuse. WJXT. Ten rural Marion County schools now have wifi hot spots installed and activated so students without Internet access at home can download their assignments. “Students come by, get a signal, log in and download their assignments. Then they can go home and complete them,” said district spokesman Kevin Christian. Ocala Star-Banner. Some south Florida students describe their feelings about online schooling. Miami Herald. Proms have been canceled for Putnam County high schools. Palatka Daily News. Students from Bridgewater Middle School in Winter Garden are continuing to film and broadcast their weekly news show, Bobcat News. WOFL. A singers ensemble of students at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach got together through teleconferencing to record a version of Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a Place on Earth, which was posted to YouTube. Palm Beach Post. More than 40 employees of Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Miami drove 258 miles around Miami-Dade County to swing by 188 homes of graduating seniors and serenade them by banging pots and pans and honking horns. Miami Herald. School districts, organizations and individuals continue to feed low-income students while schools are closed. Florida Department of AgricultureFlorida Department of EducationTampa Bay TimesWUSF. WLRN. Gradebook. Tallahassee Democrat. WTXL. WTVJ. Education Week.

A district’s transition team: New Hillsborough County Superintendent Addison Davis has appointed a team of former and current educators and community leaders to act as a transition team to help him chart a course for the district. The 12-member group will research and make recommendations on such topics as low-performing schools, choice and magnet programs, test scores and morale. Tampa Bay Times.

School sales tax hike: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has signed a bill that puts a half-cent sales tax hike request by the Duval County School Board on the November ballot. Curry blocked the request last year because it didn’t call for any money going to charter schools. But a state law passed earlier this year requires all public schools to get a share of extra tax money approved by voters, and Curry now is celebrating “this important effort” and vowed to “fully support the referendum in the fall.” The tax is expected to raise about $1.2 billion over its 15-year life, which will be used to replace and repair aging schools. Florida Politics.

Teachers honored: Four Duval County teachers have been chosen as winners of the Gladys Prior Awards from the University of North Florida. Pamela Adams, a 5th-grade math and science teacher at Crown Point Elementary School; Mary Mickle, a music teacher at Waterleaf Elementary; Edward Moore, a 5th-grade English language arts teacher at Tiger Academy; and Jill Sullivan, a science teacher at Mayport Coastal, will each receive $15,000. Florida Times-Union.

Notable deaths: Ernest Swift, a longtime teacher, administrator and coach at several central Florida schools, has died at the age of 73. He coached Jones High School’s football team from 1984-1993, leading the Orlando school to its first-ever final four appearance in 1990. Orlando Sentinel.

Employees and the law: A Hillsborough County teacher has been arrested and charged with soliciting or engaging in a romantic relationship with a student as an authority figure. Police said Daniel Gonzalez, 35, a history teacher and baseball coach at Jefferson High School in Tampa, had a romantic relationship with a 14-year-old student. Tampa Bay Times. WTVT.

Opinions on schools: Gov. DeSantis needs to end the suspense and announce that public schools will remain closed until at least the start of the 2020-2021 school year. It’s a hard call, but it’s an obvious one. Orlando Sentinel. The best education for my own children lies within the four walls of their schoolhouse. The sooner they get back there for good, the better. But it’s got to be safe for them, for their teachers, for everybody. So let’s not rush back now. Gil Smart, TCPalm. I hope the coronavirus pandemic can lead to greater acceptance of educational choice, but also compel everyone to rethink their own prejudices before asking others to rethink theirs. Catherine Durkin Robinson, redefinED. School administrators should cut down the number of platforms used for online education, and make it easier for students to focus on doing their homework instead of searching for it. Ishrit Gupta, Tallahassee Democrat. We can use this horrific public health crisis to inspire a long-term transformation of public schooling. Using imagination and 21st century innovation, we can give students the flexibility they need to learn no matter where, no matter what. Joseph Wise, Orlando Sentinel.

Student enrichment: School volunteers of the year are named in the youth, adult and senior groupings in each of the state’s five geographic regions, the Florida Department of Education has announced. Florida Department of Education. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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