Exodus from remote learning to classrooms accelerating, school reopening, face masks and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Around the state: More students around the state are choosing to return to classrooms instead of continuing with online learning, a Miami-Dade County school closed but is expected to reopen today after two coronavirus cases were reported, the mother of a Palm Beach County student who tested positive notified the teacher and other parents when the district didn’t, a state representative’s campaign used the Brevard County School District logo without permission in a text message criticizing his opponent, and the Indian River County School Board votes today whether to continue its requirement that students wear masks. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts and private schools:

Miami-Dade: The Maritime and Science Technology Academy, a magnet high school in Miami, closed Monday after two students tested positive for the coronavirus. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the school has been sanitized and is expected to reopen today. Wednesday was the first day that students returned for in-person classes. Miami Herald. WPLG. WFOR. WTVJ.

Hillsborough: Superintendent Addison Davis said he feels fine after being exposed to someone with the coronavirus and has tested negative for the virus twice since he went into quarantine. Neither he nor the district has said where he was exposed, other than to say it was not at a school. WTVT.

Broward: One student and two employees have tested positive for the coronavirus since schools reopened for younger students on Friday, and four others were sent home with symptoms. The student attends Pembroke Pines Charter Elementary School, run by the city of Pembroke Pines, and the employees work at Miramar High and Park Trails Elementary in Parkland. Schools continue their phased-in reopening today with students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 returning, while those in grades 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 who opted for in-person learning are back in classrooms Thursday. Sun Sentinel. WSVN.

Orange: District officials said 139 teachers have resigned or retired since face-to-face instruction resumed. That’s up from 118 a year ago. Deputy superintendent Maria Vazquez said, “It’s not impacting our ability to teach students,” partly because there are fewer students enrolled. WFTV.

Palm Beach: A 1st-grader at Whispering Pines Elementary School in West Boca Raton tested positive for the coronavirus last Wednesday and after a day passed without the school district notifying the teacher and other parents, the mother of the infected child decided to. “The mom is a hero,” said a parent. “She did the right thing.” District officials said there was no intent to cover up the case. “We are continuously re-evaluating our notification process,” said spokeswoman Claudia Shea. Boca News Now.

Pinellas, Tampa Bay area: Almost 14,000 students have decided they’d prefer to learn in classrooms during the second quarter of the school year instead of continuing to learn remotely. That will boost the percentage of students back in schools from 60 percent to 70 percent. Superintendent Michael Grego said there are enough seats available to accommodate everyone who requested the change, although the physical spacing between desks might shrink somewhat. And he said the district will continue to offer online learning as long as needed for families with health concerns. “We are continuing to improve upon and learn a lot about remote learning,” Grego said. “We’re going to continue it.” Tampa Bay Times. WTVT. Other Tampa Bay area districts are reporting a similar trend of students going back into classrooms. WFLA.

Brevard: The campaign of state Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, used a Brevard County Schools logo in a text message attacking his opponent for the House District 53 seat, Democrat Phil Moore. The text accused Moore of wanting to close county charter schools and end school vouchers. The school district announced that the school district had no part in the message. Fine defended the text, saying he didn’t believe it falsely represented itself as originating from the school district. “I didn’t think it came from Brevard Public Schools. I think it came from someone who cares about Brevard Public Schools,” he said. Florida Today.

Seminole: A Lake Mary High School teacher’s three-minute Facebook rant about what her job’s become has been viewed almost 50,000 times. Jessica Furiosi said, “I love my students. I love this job. I love everything that I’m doing, but I am done. I am done with the extra kids, with the simultaneously, online, in-person, homework… changing everything. If this is what next year is going to look like, I would have a very hard reason saying ‘yes’ again. I love teaching, love it, but I can’t do this again.” WOFL.

Manatee: School board members are expected to vote today on what learning methods will be offered to students. Superintendent Cynthia Saunders wanted to pare the options from three to two by dropping the hybrid model that has students in classrooms some days and learning remotely on others. Some board members pushed back on that recommendation at a workshop meeting last week, saying that could put nearly 7,900 more students back in classrooms and make social distancing even more difficult to maintain. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Five positive coronavirus tests were reported Monday at four schools, and 29 people were placed into quarantine. Schools affected were Braden River High School, Buffalo Creek Middle, Lakewood Ranch High and Parrish Community High. The district has now reported 99 infections since schools reopened Aug. 17, and 1,127 exposures and quarantines. Bradenton Herald. The mother of a student was arrested after allegedly shoving a pregnant school bus assistant into a wall because the bus was 30 minutes late in dropping off her child. WWSB. WFLA.

Sarasota: The district is running low on substitute teachers who are willing to go into the classrooms because of the coronavirus pandemic. There are 660 qualified subs, but on many days school officials have to move around non-instructors to simply have coverage for classes. “Our (substitute) pool is not substantially smaller than it was in the past,” said chief operations officer Jody Dumas. “But a lot of people in the pool aren’t comfortable coming in.” The district has lowered the qualifications needed to substitute, from having a bachelor’s degree to having an associate’s degree or 60 hours of college coursework and being able to pass the district’s security checks. A committee is being formed to study the problem. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Escambia: Parents and students have until Oct. 20 to choose their learning format for the second nine-week grading period, which begins Oct. 28. They’ll have in-person and virtual options. WKRG. WEAR.

Clay: Grief counselors are on hand at two county schools to help students cope with the death of two classmates in a car crash last weekend. Parker Rowley, 17, and Luke Kennedy, 16, were driving to a taco restaurant in St. Augustine Friday when their car veered into the oncoming lane and struck a pickup truck head-on near Middleburg. The woman driving the truck was not seriously injured. Rowley attended St. Johns Classical Academy, and Kennedy went to Ridgeview High School. WTLV. WJAX. WJXT.

Leon: About 3,400 students will switch from virtual learning to in-person instruction for the second nine weeks of the year, which begins Nov. 3. The change will boost the percentage of students in classrooms to 55 percent, said Superintendent Rocky Hanna. He said there was enough space in classrooms to safely add those students. WTXL. WCTV.

Indian River: School board members are expected to decide at today’s meeting whether to continue the face mask mandate for students, and also will ask for clarification from the health department about its policies on quarantining students. Board member Teri Barenborg said the department had stated that students who were wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines when exposed wouldn’t have to quarantine. But, she said, that’s exactly what has happened, and she thinks too many quarantines are being imposed. TCPalm.

Flagler: Robert Bossardet III, the principal at Buddy Taylor Middle School, has been named the district’s executive director of leadership development by Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt. He replaces Earl Johnson, who replaces the retired Lynette Shott as executive director of student and community engagement and operations. Flagler Live.

Nassau: West Nassau High School, Hilliard Middle-Senior High and Yulee Middle will hold classes online-only on Tuesday, Nov. 3, since the schools are being used as polling places for the general election. Nassau County Record.

Walton: The school district was one of 17 in the state to be recognized as an academically high-performing school district by the Florida Department of Education. It’s the first time Walton has been honored since the 2012-2013 school year. The 16 other districts are Brevard, Clay, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Liberty, Martin, Monroe, Nassau, Okaloosa, Palm Beach, St. Johns, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter and Wakulla. WMBB.

More on the coronavirus: Health and education experts said it’s hard to come up with a list of best practices to cope with the coronavirus because there is no national tracking about what’s been happening when students return to schools. “We don’t have any good strategies to systematically collect the experience across a swath of the U.S. to actually be able to study the different approaches that have and, in some cases, not worked so well,” said Dr. Susan Coffin, professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. CNN. A survey of U.S. school administrators suggests that they are being worn down by the demands of the coronavirus pandemic, uncertainty about funding and inconsistent messaging coming from political leaders at the national, state and local levels. Education Dive. School officials across the country are struggling with matters of discipline in an era of remote learning. Whose behavior standards apply when your school is also your home? Associated Press.

FAFSA applications: The application period for students and their parents to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2021-2022 school year began Oct. 1 and continues through June 30, 2022. Educators said students should file sooner rather than later to increase their chances of receiving grants and scholarships or appeal if they are denied. Nerd Wallet. Kiplinger.

Opinions on schools: Boston charter schools just might have a lesson to teach America about high expectations and inclusion. Matthew Ladner, redefinED. So, where does the Palm Beach County School Board put a highly paid executive who disputes undisputable knowledge? Is there an office for beefs with gravity or Euclidean geometry? Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post. Effective education in any delivery format requires a tremendous amount of planning and preparation to ensure that learning outcomes are achieved. Educators were not provided enough time to plan or master the technologies and best practices of online learning. Albert D. Ritzhaupt, Gainesville Sun.

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