Reopening expanding, relief bill has $58 billion for K-12 schools, proposals to return to schools and more

Reopening expansion: Gov. Ron DeSantis has cleared south Florida to begin reopening according to Phase 1 guidelines on Monday, and is expected to announce today in Jacksonville that gyms and fitness centers can open and the state’s restaurants can expand to 50 percent seating capacity. Those moves are expected to be followed shortly by Phase 2 of reopening, which would allow bars to reopen, with lower capacity and continued adherence to social distancing guidelines, and permit nonessential travel, in-person government meetings, and groups of 50 to congregate with social distancing. People considered vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus will be urged to continue to self-isolate. “Phase 2 really isn’t that different from what Florida’s done already,” DeSantis said, “basically about opening up bars and some of those things.” DeSantis said he wants colleges and universities open to students in the fall, and his announcement could signal his intentions for K-12 schools. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Gannett. Tampa Bay Times. Miami Herald. WFSU. WJXT. WKMG. WTVT. WSVN. Florida Phoenix. Florida Politics. Politico Florida. Orlando Sentinel. Sun Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. WTLV. WPTV.

Federal aid proposal: The U.S. House is expected to vote today on a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that includes about $58 billion for K-12 schools. The money would go through the states to local school districts, and would have to be used within two years or be returned. It also couldn’t go to “provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary or secondary schools” except as required for students in special education and with disabilities. Educators were lobbying for $175 billion for K-12 schools. Republican senators have criticized the overall package, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said there’s “no rush” to vote on it. Associated PressRoll Call. CNN. Politico. Education Week. Private schools pleaded with Congress to provide tuition payment relief or risk those schools closing and sending a flood of new students to public schools that are also financially stressed. redefinED.

School reopening plans: Two more reports were released Thursday that make recommendations on how the nation’s schools can safely reopen. The Centers for Disease Control report, which was revised after the White House objected to the draft last week, urges spacing students 6 feet apart, closing cafeterias, promoting healthy hygiene and increased screening for the virus. A new national report also has issued several recommendations on returning to school and how the education model could change. Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan nonprofit organization of state and district education leaders, and the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy suggest rearranging classrooms to allow for social distancing, staggering attendance and continue some distance learning. They’re also calling for longer school days and years, changing staffing models to provide teachers with deep subject knowledge for instruction and other educators for one-on-one work with students, a greater focus on the social and emotional well-being of students, and adopting high-quality instructional materials and curriculum-aligned assessments. Associated Press. NPR. New York Times. Chiefs for Change. Seminole County and southwest Florida school officials are considering their options, which could include a mixture of in-person and online learning, for reopening schools. WKMG. WFTX.

Parents burning out: Parents of students with disabilities say they are overwhelmed by having to assume the roles of teachers, therapists and behavior specialists for their homebound children. Malika Simmons of DeLand, mother to an autistic 12-year-old son who usually works with four professionals every day at River Springs Middle School, said, simply, “It’s been hell.” Heather Dorries has three children with special needs. She asked the Flagler County School District to suspend their support therapies, which means she’s forfeiting the chance to make up missed services when schools reopen. She said it was a decision she had to make. “What is more important at this point? These therapies or for them to complete school work?” she said. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

More on the coronavirus: A public school employee stepped up to help a private school in rural north Florida set up its online learning program. redefinED. Here’s how northeast Florida school districts are planning to figure final grades. WJXT. Bay County students who attend summer school will be doing it online, district officials announce. WMBB. WJHG. Jennifer Passino, a Tamarac Elementary pre-K teacher, shrugged off chemotherapy treatments to deliver supplies to her Broward County students. Sun Sentinel. The Escambia County School District will provide curbside delivery of school meals through May 22. WEAR.

Spending controls: The Broward County School District audit committee has agreed to review the past five years of spending on technology. An outside auditor recently disclosed that the district spent $17 million for televisions from EDCO, a Georgia company that had close ties with the district’s chief technology officer from 2013-2019 for twice as much as the Miami-Dade district spent on similar TVs around the same time. The owner of EDCO, David Allen, sold that officer, Tony Hunter, a house for a price significantly below market value, and Hunter now works for a company that’s owned by Allen. Hunter also oversaw the purchase of $96 million worth of Lenovo computers that were such a problem that teachers nicknamed them “Le No No.” Sun Sentinel.

Teacher survey: An annual survey of Hillsborough County teachers suggests morale problems are increasing at several high schools. The survey asks teachers to rate school leadership and classroom size, time spent on paperwork, parent involvement and student behavior. It also asks if they feel they’re included in making decisions, and are being given the proper training and necessary supplies. Gradebook.

Title IX lawsuit: The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the U.S. Education Department over its recently announced rules governing how K-12 schools and colleges are required to handle sexual misconduct allegations. The ACLU claims the rules violate the Administrative Procedure Act because they “were arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.” Politico.

Education podcasts: Palm Beach County school Superintendent Donald Fennoy talks about what schools might look like when they reopen, budget cuts, changes to teacher salaries and more. WLRN.

Personnel moves: New Hillsborough County school Superintendent Addison Davis has announced 15 appointments to his executive team. They include some administrators who are already employed in the district, as well as several Davis knew from his previous jobs in Duval and Clay counties. Tampa Bay Times. Eleven new assistant principals have been appointed to Manatee County schools. Bradenton Herald.

Opinions on schools: Democratic leaders in Congress have thrown in the towel on K-12 education. The federal aid package now being considered by the U.S. House, which is controlled by Democrats, includes only $58 billion for public K-12 schools out of its $3 trillion total. That’s not nearly enough to hold K-12 schools harmless from the enormous economic impact of the pandemic. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow. COVID-19 has been devastating for entire domains of American life. There is much we cannot control as we look ahead to fall 2020. One thing we can do, together, is use the unexpected pause on business as usual to design education for the better. Ashley Berner and David Steiner, redefinED. Two months into the coronavirus pandemic, many of the country’s largest school districts still have no consistent plan for online learning. Travis Pillow and Bree Dusseault, The 74. Ten steps to follow to safely reopen schools. Paul Vallas, The 74. A day in the life of a teacher during a pandemic. Tracy Erickson, Orlando Sentinel.

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