In the Legislature: Five school superintendents testified at Florida’s State House a week after the House speaker warned schools could lose hundreds of millions in funding due to enrollment drops caused by the pandemic. The superintendents appeared before the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees education funding, with some asking for “more teeth” in a law to help find students who have gone unaccounted for this school year. It has been estimated by state economists that 87,811 fewer students have enrolled in public schools than were predicted for the 2020-2021 academic year. News 13.WLRN. Meanwhile, a bill is making its way through the state Legislature that would require high school students to learn CPR before they graduate. CPR training is encouraged, but not currently mandatory. HB 157 requires one hour of CPR training in grades 9 through 11. Schools would have to decide how to incorporate training during the school year. WINK.
Around the state: Some students will be able to attend in-person graduation, mental health and substance abuse training is being offered for free, pop-up vaccinations are being offered for teachers, an online learning switch occurs in one district coping with COVID-19 cases, and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, colleges and universities:
Palm Beach: Teachers seeking vaccine appointments now have an additional option. A pop-up vaccine site will be established in Lake Worth on Saturday for teachers who qualify to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under the state of Florida’s guidelines. WPEC.
Brevard: Seniors from Brevard Public Schools’ class of 2021 will be able to attend in-person graduation ceremonies this spring. But, prom dances and other end of the year traditions are on hold. Ticket availability for prom will be limited depending on factors such as class and venue size in an effort to maintain social distancing guidelines, but the district is hoping to livestream events. Florida Today.
Indian River: An agreement was approved that would boost teacher pay for both new and veteran educators, take away early dismissal days from the calendar, and offer additional professional development for staff. Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Citrus: In an effort to address mental health and substance abuse issues among youth in Citrus, the Citrus County School District and the Citrus Health Improvement Partnership will offer free Youth Mental Health First Aid Training in March to local parents and community members who work with children. Training includes a six-hour course designed to give adults the skills needed to provide children support if they are developing a mental health or substance abuse issue, and how to direct them toward care. According to Florida HealthCharts, about 13% of the county’s high school students reported binge drinking in 2016, the last year statistics were available. Problems have been worsened by the pandemic since some schools are closed, decreasing traditional face-to-face teacher and student-to-student interaction. Citrus County Chronicle.
Pandemic pause: After citing “multiple” COVID-19 cases at Fort Caroline Middle School in Jacksonville, school officials in Duval County decided to switch to online learning through Monday. In addition, there will be no after school or extracurricular activities through Monday. A message sent to families said the school will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The Florida Times-Union. News4Jax. In Manatee County, six people (four employees and two students) at four Manatee public elementary schools have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to school officials. At least 79 people were sent into quarantine since they were directly exposed to one of the infected people while at school. The newest cases were reported at Abel Elementary, Bashaw Elementary, Sea Breeze Elementary and Tara Elementary. Bradenton Herald.
Opening classrooms: President Joe Biden wants to reopen schools, but the goal is politically tricky since the ultimate decision is up to local school districts. Meanwhile, some parents have joined lawsuits to force schools to fully open their doors in the midst of the pandemic. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on how to safely reopen schools during the pandemic might keep kids out of the classroom longer than necessary. And some say Gov. Ron DeSantis omitted childhood COVID-19 data in a tweet about reopening schools. NPR. WPLG. NBC Miami. NBC Miami.
Paying for college: One of the biggest financial decisions some families will make is paying for college, prompting the writing of Ron Lieber’s book, “The Price You Pay for College,” which aims to help families navigate how to do it. WLRN.
Youth philanthropist: A student and aspiring astronaut named Taylor Richardson, who is also an advocate for inclusion and diversity in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math), has raised more than $250,000 since 2014 to sponsor scholarships and send girls to STEM camps. One notable donor who has contributed to her efforts: Oprah Winfrey. First Coast News.
Teacher trouble: A Jacksonville private school teacher denies molesting a student but admitted to exchanging messages with the minor, according to court records. James Rankin Johnson, 70, is facing felony charges while he is in custody at the Duval County Jail. News 4 Jax.
Opinions on schools: Our Matt Ladner spoke to Chad Aldis of The Thomas B. Fordham Institute about Ohio’s open enrollment choice system, how rules restricting charter schools to urban areas limits choice for low-income or minority families, and how Ohio compares to Arizona, another education choice state. redefinED. Solar panels should be installed at schools in the state, allowing them to be living energy-efficient laboratories that save money and demonstrate STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) concepts. Michelle Drucker, Orlando Sentinel.