COVID and school reopenings, quarantine policies, book banned in district, health records and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Around the state: Two more Miami-Dade County students have tested positive for the coronavirus since schools reopened Monday, families of those killed in the Parkland school shooting will have to disclose at least some of their records detailing mental health treatment they’ve received, a state auditor puts fault on Leon school officials for not properly reviewing a contract with a company to provide school bus routes and services, a book has been pulled from the curriculum of an English class at an Okaloosa County high school, Santa Rosa’s superintendent wants the state health department to relax the rules governing quarantines, and Marion County schools may have more quarantines after redefining what close contact is. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts and private schools:

Miami-Dade: Two more students tested positive for the coronavirus in the first week of staggered school reopenings, and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said three other schools are being checked for possible cases. “It was almost inevitable that as we reopened schools [that] some of these cases would happen,” Carvalho said in a video. He urged parents to not send sick children to school and to screen their children at home. One of the cases was at William H. Lehman Elementary in Kendall, and the other reportedly was at Charles D. Wyche Elementary in Miami Gardens. Students in grades 7, 8, 11 and 12 who have chosen in-person learning return to classrooms today. Miami Herald. WLRN. WPLG. WSVN. WFOR. WTVJ. Associated Press. The school district is offering free meals through the end of this year for all students, whether they’re in schools or learning from home. Miami Herald.

Broward: A circuit judge has ruled that families of those killed in the 2018 Parkland school shooting must turn over at least some of their records of mental health treatment they’ve received. The extent of the required disclosure will be decided later. The school board asked for the records as part of a lawsuit the parents had filed blaming the district for failing to recognize the danger posed by the accused shooter and not stopping him. Sun Sentinel. WPEC. The school district is beginning its phased-in reopening of schools, with students in pre-K, kindergarten, and 1st and 2nd grades, and those with special needs returning today. Students in the 3rd through 6th and 9th grades return Tuesday, and everyone else on Thursday, Oct. 15. WFOR. WTVJ.

Orange: The faith-based Alpha Learning Academy in Deltona had every intention of reopening school classrooms for students after a survey showed that’s what parents wanted. But this summer, as the number of coronavirus cases continued to climb, principal Shakelia Henderson opted for a second survey. Based on the results, she decided that when classes resumed Aug. 31 they would be online-only. Henderson hasn’t regretted the decision, and said families and students have adapted well. redefinED.

Duval: The University of North Florida College of Education has received a $4.4 million grant to coach pre-K through 2nd-grade teachers how to incorporate STEM and math into their lessons. Spinnaker.

Pinellas: Wednesday, the district had its worst coronavirus day since schools reopened Aug. 24. Eleven positive cases were reported at six schools, with 37 classrooms being placed in quarantine. Florida Politics. Two first-time politicians square off Nov. 3 in the race for the District 1 seat on the Pinellas County School Board. Stephanie Meyer, 38, is a private school teacher who supports school choice. Laura Hine, 45, is executive director of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art in St. Petersburg who also supports choice but said free public schools must be protected. Tampa Bay Times.

Brevard: Teachers union officials are pleased with the tentative contract agreement that increases base pay more than $7,000 a year, but said they are disappointed that veteran teachers were mostly overlooked by the state when it allocated money. The proposed deal provides raises of $850 for those teachers already making more than the new minimum of $46,550. “It’s … disappointing the pay plan that came from (Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis) left our veteran educators so far behind,” said union vice president Vanessa Skipper. “We are hopeful the Legislature fixes this plan going forward and that the district plans to prioritize its veteran educators next year and beyond.” Florida Today.

Osceola: A school crossing guard was hospitalized with serious injuries Thursday morning after being hit by a car that ran a red light at an intersection in St. Cloud. Charges are pending. Orlando Sentinel. WOFL.

Seminole: More than 4,500 students who had been learning remotely will return to classrooms Monday. More than 26,000 students will continue with online learning. District officials said they have room to take in the students and maintain safety precautions. WKMG. WFTV.

Volusia: School officials said they are dealing with the New Smyrna Beach High School students who used a racist slur several times against a black student on a school bus and then posted a video of the incident on social media. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

St. Johns: A day after announcing that students will no longer be permitted to switch from in-person to remote learning, the district said it will send a new survey to parents that asks just a single question: When the second quarter begins Nov. 2, will your child/children return to campus or continue with remote learning until the state’s emergency order expires Dec. 18? WJXT. St. Augustine Record. An online tool is now available so parents can see school attendance zones. The maps are based on the 2020-2021 academic year. WJAX.

Marion: Quarantines could increase with the school district’s new policy regarding close contact with people who have the coronavirus. Close contact had been described as spending 15 minutes within 6 feet of an infected person. The change will make the 15 minutes cumulative over several encounters during a day. WMFE. A district transportation employee has been counseled after driving around the Belleview Middle School parking lot in his pickup truck that was carrying Confederate and American flags, and one touting President Donald Trump’s re-election. District officials said Rick Cummings violated school policy against political advertising. Ocala Star-Banner.

Leon: A state auditor has faulted the district for not properly reviewing a contract with Education Logistics Inc. to provide school bus route consultations and services. That failure led to massive technical problems “resulting in wasted public resources and elevated bus-related safety risks for students, district employees, and others” at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, according to the audit. After the problems, the district demoted its transportation director and abandoned the $700,000 system provided by EduLog. Tallahassee Democrat.

Okaloosa: County school officials have ordered the removal of a book from the curriculum for a senior English class at Choctawhatchee High School. Robin DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism, had not been cleared for this year’s approved reading list. According to the website of the Bookshop store, the book explores “the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.” Northwest Florida Daily News. WUWF.

Alachua: District officials said the primary source of coronavirus cases in schools is high school football games. Three teams have already been required to quarantine after exposure to someone who tested positive. WUFT.

Santa Rosa: Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick is asking state health officials to change the rules requiring students and employees to quarantine for two weeks if they’ve come into close contact with someone who has the coronavirus, even if they’ve been wearing masks. Wyrosdick said the rules are unnecessarily interrupting the school year, with 29 teachers out of school now and as many as 86 students being sent home at one time. His proposal is that students and employees who are exposed but wearing masks simply be monitored for 14 days and be allowed to stay in school unless they develop symptoms. WEAR.

Bay: Two sisters who attend the Deane Bozeman School have been honored by the sheriff’s office for helping rescue two people from a car that had run into a retention pond in July. Maddison and Melody Campbell were awarded certificates of recognition. WJHG.

Martin: Two elementary schools that were originally scheduled to open this fall will be ready by next fall, district officials said. Work on the New Jensen Beach and Palm City elementary schools was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Both schools are being built to hold up to 750 students. TCPalm.

Okeechobee: A student at Central Elementary School in Okeechobee has tested positive for the coronavirus, sending seven students home to quarantine and learn remotely for two weeks. It’s the third case at the school so far this academic year. WPEC.

Arresting children: More than 300 children under the age of 9 were arrested during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 fiscal years, according to records from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice data. The number jumps to 5,787 if 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds are added. WFTS.

Opinions on schools: Could there be a correlation between climate and student learning, as suggested in a recent study? There could be, and there should be more research performed. Do we have reasons to be skeptical? I would say we do. Florida, for instance, gets plenty of days of 80-degree plus weather, but NAEP results show an across-the-board improvement for white, black and Hispanic students. Matthew Ladner, redefinED.

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