Districts balk at order, mandatory masks, reopening plans, graduations, youths testing positive and more

Districts may not comply: Several south Florida districts are already pushing back against the state order to open every school in August with a full five-day-a week schedule. Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Tuesday his district won’t open schools as scheduled Aug. 24 unless the county has moved into Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Phase 2 of reopening. Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie said he doesn’t see a “realistic path” to reopening every county school five days a week, and added that he will “never compromise the health and safety of our students, teachers and staff.” He contends it’s up to every school district to decide how to safely reopen schools. Both the Broward and Palm Beach school districts are offering students the options of in-person classes, online classes or a combination that would put students in classrooms two or three days a week and learning from home the other days. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s order said the only exception to a traditional school week is a recommendation from the local or state health departments that it would be unsafe to do so. Districts must submit their reopening plans to the DOE by July 31. Miami Herald. Sun Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. WPLG. News Service of Florida. WSVN. WFOR. WTVJ. Teachers unions leaders are asking the state for more guidance on reopening safely. WLRN. WFSU. Florida Politics. WJXT. President Trump said on Tuesday at a White House roundtable that he would pressure governors to reopen schools in the fall, and work hand-in-hand with them. Administration officials have argued that keeping students home poses a greater risk to students than the coronavirus. Earlier, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rejected some districts’ plans to offer in-person learning only a few days a week. She said schools must be “fully operational.” Associated Press. Politico. Chalkbeat.

Reopening schools: Hillsborough County students, teachers and other school employees will now be required to wear masks in closed spaces when social distancing isn’t possible, Superintendent Addison Davis announced Tuesday. The district will provide three reusable masks for each student. Tampa Bay Times. WFTS. WUSF. Gradebook. WFLA. WTVT. Orange County school officials announce their tentative reopening plan, which includes students wearing masks when social distancing isn’t possible, temperature checks and three options for learning. WKMG. WFTV. Spectrum News 13. WESH. Orlando Sentinel. Marion County parents can choose to send their children back to school classrooms or have them learn remotely in the fall, according to the plan released Tuesday. The district will provide students with face shields, and students will be asked to wear masks on buses. Ocala Star-Banner. WKMG. The Lake County School District is offering student three learning options. Daily Commercial. Bay County students will have to wear masks on buses and are encouraged to wear them in classrooms under the district plan announced Tuesday. Panama City News Herald. WJHG. The Duval County School District is one district that will have to adjust its plan, since it did not anticipate opening every school every day as required by the state. WJXT. Florida Times-Union. WJAX. Manatee County school officials are also reassessing their plan after Monday’s announcement. Bradenton Herald. Here’s how some central Florida districts are planning to reopen schools. WKMG. Lee County’s reopening plan might need some tweaking, said district officials. Fort Myers News-Press. WINK. WFTX. St. Johns County school officials have put a hold on releasing their plan to reopen schools until they see if it complies with the state’s mandate. WJXT. St. Augustine Record. Leon County schools won’t be affected by the state order, said district officials. About 25 percent of students are expected to pursue remote learning, with the rest in classrooms. Tallahassee Democrat. The Martin County School Board approved a reopening plan, but the St. Lucie and Indian River districts may have to rework their plans. TCPalm. WPTV. WPEC. WPBF. Twenty-eight percent of Flagler County parents plan to enroll their children only in online learning, according to the school district’s survey. Flagler Live.

Graduation changes: Orange County joins the list of districts that have canceled in-person high school graduations because of the recent rise in coronavirus cases. Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said she made the decision in consultation with the county’s top public health official, Dr. Raul Pino. WKMG. WFTV. The Imagine School in North Port has canceled its in-person graduation ceremonies. John Halcomb, principal of the Sarasota County charter school, said a graduation committee is working on an alternate celebration. Charlotte Sun. Brevard school Superintendent Mark Mullins announces the protocols that will be in place for high school graduation ceremonies. Space Coast Daily. Bay County school officials have confirmed that eight high schools will hold graduation ceremonies this month. WMBB. WJHG.

More on the coronavirus: More than 11,000 Florida children under the age of 18 have tested positive for the coronavirus since schools closed in mid-March, according to the Florida Department of Health. WTXL. Marion County school officials will be forming a task force to make plans on how to save money if the state cuts funding by by 10, 20 or 30 percent. Ocala Star-Banner. Just 39 percent of 20,000 grade 5-12 students surveyed from nine states said they learned a lot during remote learning, and 70 percent reported that they had at least one obstacle to learning. Florida was not included in the survey by the nonprofit group Youth Truth. Education Dive. Online summer school for Polk County 4th-graders who have struggled with reading or math begins today. Lakeland Ledger.

Renaming schools: The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is raising money to help pay the costs of renaming Duval County schools that were named after Confederate officials. The district is considering renaming six schools. Donations will go for signs, paint, refinishing athletic fields and courts and providing new uniforms. Florida Times-Union.

School for autistic proposed: The Lotus Center School, a private school for children with autism, is asking the Charlotte County Board of Zoning Appeals to approve its proposed move from Englewood to Port Charlotte. The school expects to have 12 students this year. Charlotte Sun.

Black teachers sue district: Two black Flagler County teachers are suing the district, alleging that they were discriminated against by being denied promotions. Jawanda Dove, who has 20 years of experience, applied for and was denied an assistant principal’s position and other positions while whites were hired. Travis Lee, with 21 years of experience, said he too was passed over for a promotion in favor of a white candidate. WJXT.

Personnel moves: Carmen Balgobin, the deputy superintendent of the Volusia County School District, has been named interim superintendent through Aug. 28 while Superintendent Scott Fritz undergoes treatment for cancer. Daytona Beach News-Journal. New principals have been named at five Hillsborough County schools. Gradebook. The Pasco County School District hires a new director of security and transferred two principals to new schools. Tampa Bay Times.

Employees and the law: A former Walton County school nurse has been sentenced to two years of probation after pleading no contest to culpable negligence for allegedly mishandling a student’s medicine. Jacquetta Lowry had been charged with two counts of child abuse. A student said she gave him medicine that looked different from his regular prescription, which was confirmed through testing. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Opinions on schools: According to every objective measure, this is a golden age for Florida’s public education system. We still have huge unmet challenges, most notably in addressing a large achievement gap that is correlated with racial, ethnic and economic class differences. But we have much progress to celebrate and to inspire us to keep going. If we can effectively manage our negativity bias, our greatest successes still lie ahead. Doug Tuthill, redefinED. Last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision is a powerful, if very limited, reaffirmation of the basic constitutional right, authority and power, even of low-income parents, to decide just what style and content of formal schooling their child will experience. John E. Coons, redefinED. Any elected official who mandates the reopening of schools without offering a real plan for financing the mandate is simply pushing for catastrophic failure. Peter Greene, Forbes. The state’s order that schools must reopen will cause, uh, a few minor changes in the daily routine. Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post.

Student enrichment: The Leon County School District has received a $100,000 grant from the USDA Farm to School Grant Program that will be used to increase the local farm products used in school meals and teach students about food and agriculture. WTXL.

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