Superintendent contracts virus, reopening schools, virus costs, Cruz trial, trainer shortage and more

Superintendent tests positive: Pasco County school Superintendent Kurt Browning has tested positive for the coronavirus and is in self-isolation. Browning, 61, reported a fever, chills and achiness on Friday and decided to get tested. “My symptoms are relatively minor, but I’m not taking this lightly,” Browning said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to get back to work full strength as soon as the medical experts say I can.” Until he does, deputy superintendent Ray Gadd will run the district. Tampa Bay Times. News Service of Florida. WFLA.

Reopening schools: Leon County students will be required to wear masks when social distancing is not possible, such as between classes and on buses when schools restart Aug. 10, district school officials said at a school reopening task force on Monday. Wearing masks during classes is recommended, but won’t be required. Students will be screened daily for coronavirus symptoms. Bus drivers and attendants will wear masks and gloves and get daily temperature checks. Every teacher will be expected to disinfect classrooms frequently and will be provided with thermometers. Students will eat in their classrooms or outside. WTXL. Tallahassee Democrat. WCTV. Hillsborough County school officials will present their reopening plan to the school board today. WFLA. WFTS. About a dozen Tampa elementary schools are testing proposed safety precautions as some preschool students return for learning. Tampa Bay Times. Palm Beach County school officials are holding a series of town meetings to hear from members of the community what safety precautions they’d like to see in place when schools reopen Aug. 10. WPTV. The Manatee County School Board has reserved two hours Thursday during a school reopening task force meeting to hear public comments on whether to fully reopening schools, how they’ll be made safe, whether students and staff should wears masks and more. Bradenton Herald.

Reopening universities: Florida’s Board of Governors meets today at 11 a.m. to consider the reopening plans of the system’s 12 universities. All 12 have submitted their plans and will have 20 minutes to present them and answer questions. The most recent plan announced is Florida Atlantic University’s, which projects most courses to be held online, students and staff wearing masks when social distancing can’t be maintained, increased testing and setting aside 100 dorm rooms for students who contract the coronavirus. Palm Beach Post. WPTV. Seminole State College will reopen Aug. 24 with mostly online courses and a limited number of in-person classes, officials said in announcing the school’s reopening plan. Students and staff will be required to wear masks on campus. WKMG.

The cost of coronavirus: The Duval County School District has already spent more than $10.2 million since the beginning of April responding to the coronavirus outbreak, according to district documents. The list of receipts includes spending for masks and other protective gear, school supplies, laptops and hotspots for remote learning, cleaning supplies, updated software and more. School board officials are expected to discuss school reopening plans at today’s meeting, which will add expenses to the list. WJXT.

More on the coronavirus: The University of Central Florida is launching an online dashboard to report and track coronavirus cases who are linked to the campus. WKMG. Budget problems are limiting how much social distancing can be created this fall in schools. Associated Press. School reopenings are requiring teachers and students to do more with less. WPEC. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush talks about ways state and education leaders can provide leadership through school reopenings during the pandemic. Education Week. Bolles School president Tyler Hodges called accusations on an Instagram account of racism against the Jacksonville private school “certifiably false and deeply hurtful.” The charges were made on an account called Black at Bolles. WJXT. The Citrus County School District has announced new locations and pickup times for its summer food distribution program. Citrus County Chronicle.

Cruz’s trial off indefinitely: The trial of the man accused of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 has been postponed indefinitely. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who had earlier postponed the trial of Nikolas Cruz, said Monday that the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the trial for the forseeable future. The Broward County Courthouse has been closed since March 16, and there is no timetable for it to reopen. Cruz, now 21, has offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence in prison. Prosecutors have declined the offer, contending only a jury should decide if the possibility of the death penalty should be waived. Associated Press. Sun Sentinel. WLRN. WPLG.

Trainers in short supply: A little over a year ago, when a 14-year-old high school football died of heat-related illness during summer practice, Hillsborough County school official vowed to place a certified athletic trainer at every high school. But the district couldn’t reach contract agreements with two of the three companies that provided the trainers for the last year, leaving a dozen or more schools uncovered. Spokeswoman Tanya Arja said the district is scrambling to find replacement trainers. Until it does, school nurses will be at schools between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tampa Bay Times.

Renaming a school: Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Orlando will keep its name longer than many people would like, since the Orange County School District has delayed taking a survey to get new name suggestions until the school year begins. District officials blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the pause in replacing the Confederate general’s name on the school. The most popular suggestion in an earlier survey was simply to rename the school Jackson Middle. But that drew criticism, so the school board commissioned another survey, which now won’t happen before August. Orlando Sentinel.

Confederate flag ban considered: A proposed new student code of conduct for Indian River County schools would ban the display of the Confederate flag on campuses. Superintendent David Moore said, “We’re trying to get to a place where all kids feel equal.” The code also bans other symbols, Moore said. TCPalm.

Unconscious bias training: The Duval County School District’s Parent Academy is offering free unconscious bias training for families of students from July 1 through Sept. 9. The 10 classes have titles such as what is cultural intelligence, seeing unconscious bias, and improving decision-making. WJXT.

School could reopen: A year after Oscar Patterson Elementary School in Bay County was closed, the district is proposing new life for it. Superintendent Bill Husfelt is recommending to the school board that it be used as a K-2 school, with the addition of a grade every year until it again houses K-5 students. The school was closed because of poor academic performance and shrinking enrollment. Panama City News Herald.

Superintendent search: Sarasota County School Board members meet today to decide how many of the five finalists for the superintendent’s job to interview. The board could choose all five or narrow the list. Interview are scheduled between June 30 and July 2. The finalists are: Brennan Asplen III, deputy superintendent, St. Johns County; Marie Izquierdo, chief academic officer, Miami-Dade County; Gonzalo S. La Cava, chief of human resources, Palm Beach County; Peter Licata, regional superintendent, Palm Beach County; and Keith Oswald, deputy superintendent, Palm Beach County. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Graduation speech: Marion County Superintendent Heidi Maier’s speech to the graduating class at Vanguard High School last week went so badly that students immediately began a petition to ban her from also speaking at West Port High School. About 1,500 signatures were collected, and Maier did not address West Port graduates. In her Vanguard speech, Maier was critical of students who don’t stand for the national anthem and confused the first and second amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Maier’s last day as superintendent is June 30, and Diane Gullett starts July 1. WCJB.

School elections: Ten candidates have qualified for three Lee County School Board seats on the primary ballot Aug. 18. In District 2, incumbent Melissa Giovannelli is being challenged by Emory Cavin, Charla Strange Fox and Jeff McCullers. In District 3, Brian DiGrazio and Jacqueline Perez are taking on incumbent Chris Patricca. District 7 incumbent Cathleen Morgan faces Pete Bohatch and Curt Sheard . Fort Myers News-Press. Ricardo Davis, the chairman of the Pinellas County Personnel Board, has announced he is withdrawing from race for the District 7 seat on the Pinellas County School Board. He said the Unified Personnel System Act does not allow board members to run for a paid political office. His withdrawal leaves four candidates for the seat being vacated by Rene Flowers, who is running for the county commission. Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher fired: A Palm Beach County teacher has been fired for asking a female student to send him a photo of her in just her underwear and also suggesting she should become sexually active to relieve stress. Jhonny Felix, a math teacher at Palm Beach Lakes High School, has been under district investigation since December 2018 after the student reported the incidents. Prosecutors decided last September that there wasn’t enough evidence to take the case to court. Palm Beach Post.

Teacher under investigation: An Escambia County teacher is under investigation by the school district for racially charged remarks she posted on Facebook. The Longleaf Elementary School teacher, who was not named by the district, wrote “What is privilege? Privilege is wearing $200 sneakers when you’ve never had a job. Privilege is having as many children as you want regardless of your employment status and be able to send them off to daycare or school you don’t pay for.” She said she should be free to post whatever she wants on her personal social media account. WEAR.

Opinions on schools: Public school districts have the chance to be heroes by reaching out to help struggling private schools. If they do, it could boost their standing when appealing to taxpayers for more resources. If they don’t, and many private schools close, expect to see more polls showing parents are ready to keep students home. Jonathan Butcher, redefinED. Closing schools was a grievous error. Contrasting the tiny public-health risks with the devastating educational deprivation, it is imperative that public officials let America’s children return to school now. Williamson M. Evers, Real Clear Education.

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