Teachers union challenging state’s order in court, more school start delays, reopening plans and more

Lawsuit challenges order: A lawsuit has been filed challenging the state’s executive order that directs districts to reopen classrooms to students for five days a week when schools resume in August. The Florida Education Association, the largest teachers union in the state, is asking the Miami-Dade Circuit Court to stop the “reckless and unsafe reopening of schools” while coronavirus cases are surging. The NAACP and educators in Miami-Dade, Broward and Orange counties have joined the suit against Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, who issued the order. It was the second lawsuit filed in the past two days challenging the state. Corcoran called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said the FEA doesn’t understand that the order was a recommendation. The DOE issued a tweet Monday saying that emergency order 2020-EO-06 does not take away a local district’s ability to implement its own plan, or require every student return to school five days a week, or implement policies or mandate regulations that endanger medically vulnerable students or teachers. Meanwhile, DeSantis simply said, “I didn’t give any executive order. That was the Department of Education.” Politico Florida. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. USA Today Florida Network. WLRN. Miami Herald. Sun Sentinel. NPR. WSVN. WJXT. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Florida PhoenixFlorida Politics. WTXL. WFSU. WPTV.

Reopening plans: Florida school boards are considering and approving district reopening plans, which must be submitted to the Florida Department of Education by July 31. Here are the latest developments:

Hillsborough County: About half of the 110,418 parents who have submitted their choices on what type of instruction they want for their children have chosen one of two remote learning options, according to district officials. WFLA. Administrators answered school reopening questions from the public during a town meeting Monday. WTVT.

Duval County: Superintendent Diana Greene said she will push for including a hybrid instructional model that blends in-person and online learning as options for students when she presents her final reopening plan to the school board Thursday. WJXT. Less than 10 percent of Duval’s students have signed up for online learning. WJXT.

Brevard County: School board members say they are being placed in the position of making a critical decision on reopening schools next month without the advice they need. Local health department officials have said they can’t, or won’t provide guidance on whether it’s safe to reopen schools to students five days a week as the state has ordered; that only the state can make an official recommendation. But board chair Misty Belford said she’s gotten the runaround from the state. She said the board is in a “really bad position. We have no functional metric on which to base the safety of reopening schools, our local DOH has been told they cannot advise us on the safety of reopening schools, and our hands have been tied” by the state order. Florida Today.

Lee, Collier counties: Lee Superintendent Greg Adkins is recommending that the school board approve a new school start date of Aug. 24 or 31 instead of Aug. 10. The board will consider the change on Thursday. Fort Myers News-Press. WINK. The rate of coronavirus infection in children is peaking just as parents are having to make a decision whether to send their children back to school. In Lee County, 46.3 percent of children tested have been positive, and in Collier it’s 42.7 percent. Naples Daily News.

Manatee County: District officials said over the weekend that students can switch between the learning methods offered every quarter under the reopening plan. Those options are in-person attendance, online-only and a hybrid model that mixes both options. All students will receive the same amount of work. Wednesdays are set aside for deep-cleaning at every school. The first day of school is scheduled Aug. 17, but school board member Charlie Kennedy said he would offer a motion at the July 28 meeting to push the start date back to Aug. 31. Bradenton Herald.

Lake County: Day 1 of the school year has been pushed from Aug. 10 to Aug. 24, under the reopening plan approved by the school board Monday. Students will have the options of in-class instruction, the Lake County Virtual School, remote learning with a teacher at a local school or a combination of in-person and online classes. WKMG. WMFE.

St. Johns County: About 70 percent of parents have chosen in-person learning for their children, school officials said Monday. More than 33,000 decided to return to schools, while about 11,600 picked remote learning and 2,700 selected home-schooling. WTLV.

St. Lucie County: The school district has pushed the first day of school from Aug. 10 to Aug. 24 because of the pandemic, Superintendent Wayne Gent announced Monday. “The additional two weeks gives time for the conditions in the county to improve and additional time for staff to finalize preparations for the school year,” he said. TCPalm. WPTV. WPEC.

Leon County: Officials at the Florida State University Schools announced that while online classes begin Aug. 19, in-person classes won’t resume until Aug. 31. FSUS is a K-12 laboratory school sponsored by FSU that works closely with FSU’s College of Education. WCTV.

Santa Rosa County: Parents have begun a petition drive to pressure the school district to offer a third learning option for their children. They want a hybrid plan that would mix in-school and remote learning for those parents who who don’t want to send their children back to school or enroll in the Santa Rosa Online virtual school. Pensacola News Journal.

Bay County: Bay Haven Charter Schools have announced a delay in the start of the school year to Aug. 24, two weeks later than scheduled. Officials cited the pandemic and the need for more time to prepare. WMBB.

Hernando County: School board members approved the district’s reopening plan, which includes a requirement that students and staff wear masks in schools and gives student three learning options: in-person school, remote learning tied to the student’s school, or independent learning through a virtual school. The first day of classes was also moved to Aug. 31. Gradebook. WTVT. Bay News 9.

Martin County: The district’s teachers are asking the school board to delay the scheduled Aug. 11 start of school or open the year with online learning only. They contend it’s not safe to reopen. The board meets today. WPTV.

Indian River County: The first day of school will be Aug. 24 instead of Aug. 10. Superintendent David Moore said, “As we reflect on the amount of training and preparation needed to ensure all students and teachers are safe, we are not going to rush it. We need to be prepared.” TCPalm. WPTV. WPEC. Vero News.

Citrus County: In the past week, enrollment in the new online school system has grown from 700 students to 850, according to district officials. Aug. 10 is the first day of school. Citrus County Chronicle.

Putnam County: The school board tentatively agreed with Superintendent Rick Surrency’s recommendation to put off the first day of school for two weeks, to Aug. 24. The board’s official vote is set Aug. 3. WJXT.

Baker County: All three county schools will open as scheduled Aug. 10, said Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson, with face masks optional for students and physical distancing maintained whenever possible. WJXT.

Holmes County: School board members will vote today on the district’s reopening plan, which includes in-person and virtual learning options. Masks will be strongly recommended but not required for students and social distancing will be observed as much as possible. WJHG.

No delay for sports seasons: The Florida High School Athletic Association’s board of directors voted Monday to allow fall sports practices to begin as scheduled July 27. The decision ran counter to the advice of the FHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, which recommended a delay in the start of the football and volleyball seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic. Teams that can’t start their seasons on time may opt out of the state playoffs and instead schedule games through the championships, the board decided. Fort Myers News-Press. Tampa Bay Times. Miami Herald. Florida Times-Union. Lakeland Ledger. WTXL.

More on the coronavirus: About 140 school nurses and health technicians in the Palm Beach County School District have been furloughed because the district will start the school year with online-only learning. Palm Beach Post. WPTV. WPEC. Dozens of Miami-Dade private and charter schools received money from the federal Paycheck Protection Program meant for small businesses to keep employees on the payroll. Miami Herald. Parents in several counties are being asked to sign waivers for their children to participate in extracurricular activities. WTSP. WFTS. Eighteen Charlotte County schools will offer free breakfasts and lunches to all students through the federal Community Eligibility Program. Charlotte Sun. Tens of millions of American students could lose free school meals because a federal aid program is about to expire. Politico. A South Korean study of 65 million people shows that children under the age of 10 do not transmit the coronavirus as often as adults do, but those between the ages of 10 and 19 do. New York Times. The pandemic could spark a new wave of teacher activism, say some union leaders. Chalkbeat.

Resource officer honored: Jerry Hooks, an Okaloosa County deputy who works at Choctawhatchee High School, has been named school resource officer of the year by the Florida Association of School Resource Officers. WJHG.

School board elections: Eleven candidates will compete in the Aug. 18 primary for the District 4, 5, 6 and 7 seats on the Orange County School Board. To avoid the Nov. 3 runoff, the winner in each districts needs 50 percent plus one vote. Orlando Sentinel.

Employees and the law: A former Broward County School District custodial supervisor has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes. Richard Ellis, 50, was charged with four counts of bribery and four counts of extortion in December. The extortion charges were dropped as part of the plea deal. Ellis accepted payments from a painting contractor in return for jobs. Sentencing is Sept. 22. Sun Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: The age of K-12 self-reliance is here. Forced by harsh circumstances, it has arrived while our ability to include equity remains tragically limited. Matthew Ladner, redefinED.

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