Miami-Dade’s staggered reopening set for Sept. 30, laptop shortages, dropout worries, and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Around the state: The Miami-Dade School District’s reopening plan includes a staggered return by grade levels beginning Sept. 30, laptops for students are in short supply in the Orange and Duval school districts, only about a third of Palm Beach County students returned to classrooms on Monday, pay raises are proposed for teachers in Pinellas County, and a Miami-Dade high school football coach was shot to death Monday morning in his home. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts and private schools:

Miami-Dade: Younger students and those with special needs would be the first to return to county classrooms, according to a proposal Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced at Monday’s school board workshop meeting. The first wave of students, which includes pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and 1st-graders, as well as students with special needs, would return to classrooms on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Students in grades 2 through 5, 6, 9 and 10 would return Oct. 5. Grades 7, 8, 11 and 12 would begin Oct. 7. Every student will be required to wear a mask and maintain a distance of at least 3 feet from others. The plan now goes to the school board for a vote, possibly this morning, after members hear more than 18 hours of scheduled public comments. Miami Herald. WPLG. WLRN. WFOR. Corey Smith, the head football coach at Miami Senior High School, was shot and killed in his home Monday morning. Police said Smith’s 15-year-old nephew, who moved into the home after his father was killed in a shootout with police late last year, was the only other person known to be in the house at the time of the shooting and has been detained for questioning. Smith, 46, was a physical education teacher at Charles Drew K-8 Center and had been an employee of the district for 20 years. Miami Herald. WFOR. WPLG. WSVN.

Hillsborough: Eleven Newsome High School students have tested positive for the coronavirus within the past week. Sixty-eight cases were reported throughout the district, which included 51 students and 17 employees. Florida Politics.

Orange: The district has run out of laptops to give to students, and is asking the community for donations and families that have their own computers to return district-issued laptops. “Our backs are against the wall,” said chief communications officer Scott Howat. Another delivery of 3,000 laptops is expected soon. Orlando Sentinel. Olympia High School reopened Monday after being closed for two weeks by coronavirus cases on campus, and West Orange High began its two-week closure. Spectrum News 13. A 3rd-grade teacher at Rolling Hills Elementary School in Pine Hills has been arrested and charged after she forgot a 20-month-old boy in her car Sept. 11 and left him there for more than seven hours while she worked. A sheriff’s spokesperson said Dougkindra Wallace, 34, is charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect of a child in the death of Jace Leslie. Orlando Sentinel. WOFL. WFTV. WESH.

Palm Beach: Only about a third of the county’s 164,000 students returned to schools on Monday, and almost 950 teachers — 1 in 12 in the district — also chose to stay home. That’s nearly twice as many teachers absent than on the first day a year ago. Superintendent Donald Fennoy said, “More and more students will come back – that’s what we’ve learned from other districts. The first week is pretty slow, but later more and more return to brick and mortar.” The return to schools was criticized by school board member Debra Robinson, who said the reopening plan for ignoring the health risks to employees and students. “I am heartsick,” Robinson wrote. “This reopening plan is just wrong.” Meanwhile, a request for an emergency injunction filed by eight teachers to stop the reopening will be considered by a court Wednesday. Palm Beach Post. WPTV. The school district has created a coronavirus dashboard for its website. WPEC.

Duval: Parents said there is a gap in the need for laptops and the number available for students. Students who are learning online-only got priority when about 40,000 laptops were handed out before school started. Students in the hybrid model, in which they went to schools some days and learned from home on others, were next in line, and many are still waiting. Scott Schneider, the high school region superintendent, said distribution was determined by students’ “demonstrated need or hardship.” Florida Times-Union. A teacher from each Duval school has been nominated for the 2021 VyStar teacher of the year award. The winner will be announced Jan. 27, and will then be considered for the state teacher of the year award. WJXT.

Pinellas: District administrators are proposing to use $3.2 million of the $17 million they’re getting from the state to boost pay for 1,880 teachers to $47,500 a year. About $12.7 million would go to increase salaries by 3.3 percent for veteran and pre-K teachers, counselors, media specialists and other teachers who are not assigned to a classroom. The rest, about $1.15 million, would go to charter schools. The school board will consider the proposal today, and the union has yet to accept it. Tampa Bay Times. Another five cases of the coronavirus were reported by the district, bringing the total to 75 students and staff. Florida Politics.

Seminole: Grief counselors were on hand Monday at Seminole High School in Sanford to offer support for students after an 18-year-old student died in a car crash Sunday. Zi’Erric Wynn, who was a member of the football team, died when the car he was a passenger in slid into a power pole. WKMG.

Manatee: Three schools have reported their first coronavirus cases since classes began. Buffalo Creek Middle School reported one student tested positive, and two people were exposed to that student. Positive tests were also reported at McNeal Elementary and Palm View K-8 schools, but officials said no one else at either school was exposed. Bradenton Herald.

St. Johns: The district has adjusted its early dismissal times on Wednesdays, starting Oct. 14, to give custodians more time to sanitize high-traffic areas in schools. Middle schools will release at noon, elementary and K-8 academies at 12:55 p.m. and high schools at 2 p.m. WJXT. The school district is top-rated in the state academically, and district officials said they approached school safety with the same attention to detail. Each of its 44,000 students was given personal protection equipment that included face masks and shields, bucket hats for youngster students and a desk shield. Temperature checks are done every day. Hand sanitizer and cleaning solutions are in every classroom, and contactless water bottle refill stations are in hallways. And students, teachers and other staff received training to explain why the safety measures are necessary. WUFT.

Escambia: Schools will be closed again today because of ongoing power and water issues caused by Hurricane Sally last week, but will reopen Wednesday, according to Superintendent Malcolm Thomas. WEAR. WUWF.

Leon: Thirty-six teachers resigned in August, according to school district spokesman Chris Petley. He said they don’t have the teachers’ reasons, and can only track resignations monthly. Union president Scott Mazur said at a school board meeting earlier this month that teachers began resigning after their first week back. Schools reopened Aug. 31, and the district still has 24 unfilled teaching jobs. Tallahassee Democrat. District officials said up to 1,000 students have yet to check in with the district after three weeks of classes. The process of identifying the unaccounted for students and how to contact them has begun at two D-rated schools, John G. Riley and Bond elementary schools. Tallahassee Democrat. The K-12 Florida A&M University Developmental Research School was closed Monday until Oct. 5 after two cases of the coronavirus were reported. The 634 students will attend classes online. WFSU. WTXL. Tallahassee Democrat. Forty students and 19 employees have contracted the coronavirus in September, and about 140 students who may have been exposed have been sent home to quarantine. Tallahassee Democrat.

Martin: More than 200 students from four schools have been sent home to quarantine and learn remotely for two weeks after coronavirus cases were either reported or suspected at four schools. Affected are Jensen Beach High School, Martin County High, Anderson Middle and South Fork High, including the junior varsity football team. WPEC. TCPalm.

Indian River: Bill Wilson, a Hall of Fame track and field coach whose Vero Beach High School teams won two state championships, has died at the age of 81. He was inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame in 2001, and also was an assistant coach when Vero Beach High won a football state championship in 1981. TCPalm.

Citrus: Buddy Grant, the school district’s first police chief, is retiring and will be replaced by David Vincent, who is currently the captain of the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division. Citrus County Chronicle.

Dropout concerns: Education experts fear that remote learning prompted by the coronavirus pandemic will lead to an increase in the high school dropout rate. Students are less engaged in learning, the experts say, because of technology issues, a need to work to help their families during tough economic times, the loss of support provided in schools, and by being cut off from their friends. Education Dive.

Mental health services: The state is giving $2 million to 18 rural school districts to increase telehealth and mental health services for public school students. Mary Mayhew, secretary for the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration, said the use of telehealth is up 300 percent since the coronavirus pandemic began. The counties receiving the funding are: Bradford, Calhoun, DeSoto, Dixie, Glades, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hardee, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Union and Washington. News Service of Florida.

Opinions on schools: A small but growing number of teachers who didn’t find operating in huge impersonal bureaucracies their personal cup of tea have found joy in running their own small schools. This trend seems popular among both families and teachers, which I find thrilling, and alas, the National Education Association finds fearful. Matthew Ladner, redefinED.

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