Vaccines for teachers and law enforcement, Alyssa’s Law, SB 86, summer school expansion, and more

Camille Knox

Around the state: Teachers and law enforcement officers aged 50 and older may have access to COVID-19 vaccines soon, summer school expansion is being planned in Palm Beach, SB 86 was filed on Tuesday, and teacher turnover is affecting low-income students of color in Duval. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Vaccination update: Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested on Tuesday that teachers and law enforcement officers ages 50 and older will have access to COVID-19 vaccine doses soon. DeSantis said he would use a portion of “tens of thousands” of extra vaccine doses that Federal Emergency Management Agency-supported sites brought to the state to vaccinate teachers and members of law enforcement.  Andrew Spar of the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, says he does not know how many teachers would qualify for the vaccines.  News Service of Florida. Tallahassee Democrat. Tampa Bay Times.

Miami-Dade: Another top cabinet member is leaving Miami-Dade County Public Schools in the wake of a reorganization. Jose Dotres, the district’s chief human capital officer, is being tapped to become deputy superintendent of Collier County Public Schools. The move is taking Dotres from the largest school district in the state and fourth-largest in the country to Florida’s 16th largest school district. Collier County Public Schools has a total student population of 46,329 compared to Miami-Dade’s enrollment of 334,937.   Miami Herald. Friends and family mourned the loss of Donna Blatch, a Miami-Dade County Public Schools bus driver who died after contracting COVID-19. Miami Herald.

Palm Beach: Public schools in Palm Beach are planning a big expansion of their summer school programs to offset learning losses stemming from the pandemic. Leaders in the school district say more than 50,000 of their 170,000 students need more support in math and reading during a year when students learned remotely. District administrators hope to triple the number of students asked to attend summer classes, and are pouring an extra $8 million into efforts to expand them. Details such as the number of students chosen to attend summer school, or how they will be picked, have yet to be determined, according to Deputy Schools Superintendent Keith Oswald. Palm Beach Post.

Duval: While the Duval County Public School district is on pace with national statistics involving teacher recruitment and retention, teacher turnover affects low-income students of color according to new research from the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. Findings were shared Tuesday by the nonprofit at a webinar. A partnership was announced with Duval’s school system to develop strategies to improve diverse teacher recruitment and retention. Florida Times-Union.  A Ribault High math teacher was arrested on Friday after attempting to engage a student in a sex act after meeting at a store. Jason Jamall Camaron Clark faces charges of offenses against students by authority figures and contributing to the delinquency of a child. Duval County School officials say they are monitoring the situation “as a human resources matter,” reassigning Clark to duties without student contact pending the investigation’s outcome. Florida Times-Union.

Lee: The Lee County School District’s annual open enrollment window closes at 4 p.m. on Friday. About 1,000 fifth and eighth grade students in Lee still need to run in their top school picks for next year. Students can sign up for school anytime during the year, but the six-week open enrollment period is ideal for students who are set to start kindergarten, sixth or ninth grade in the fall. Ft. Myers News-Press.

Volusia: Frank Garaitonandia, Teacher of the Year in Volusia County, drove off in a new Mitsubishi he gets to drive for a year. He’s an art teacher at Citrus Grove Elementary. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Escambia: The Escambia County School District has been working to address concerns from military families. Pensacola News Journal.

Okaloosa: Liza Jackson Preparatory School donated a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) machine to Emerald Coast Science Center. Liza Jackson’s board of directors voted to donate the vehicle to the center. Lisa Burgess, STEAM teacher at Liza Jackson, spent the summer of 2018 with volunteers, altering the bus from transportation to educational purposes. NWF Daily News.

Bay: The $19 million STEM building at Bay High School has a proposed name: The St. Joe Community Foundation STEM Center. Superintendent Bill Husfelt supported naming it after the St. Joe Community Foundation since it bought more than $300,000 of medical equipment that will go in the facility. The school board is slated to vote on the name approval. Panama City News Herald.

Citrus: Ten years of “special education” are being celebrated at Inverness Christian Academy. The Individual Education Plan or IEP, started in 2010 with 15 students. Citrus County Chronicle.

Flagler: The Flagler County School Board invited the county commission and Palm Coast government to a joint meeting to figure out how to keep Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club open. Since 1996, the school board has owned the club. Flagler Live.

Alyssa’s Law: Starting next school year, all Florida school districts will be required to have a system in place allowing school staff to silently contact police during an emergency. Legislation was signed by the governor last year, but the Florida Department of Education last week issued a list of approved vendors to provide the service, which must be running by the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. “Alyssa’s Law” came about after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

SB 86: A bill was filed by Sen. Dennis Baxley on Tuesday to revamp financial aid for college and other postsecondary education programs. The proposal, SB 86, would focus the state’s efforts on programs that directly lead to employment in an attempt to stretch the use of taxpayer dollars, and maximize the value for students. Senate President Wilton Simpson said the bill rebalances aid programs to cover tuition costs and fees for general education requirements, and would boost targeted programs that could lead to future jobs. Florida Politics.

Opinions on schools: In Florida, choice opponents are re-surfacing the myth to slime Senate Bill 48, which is the bill that would convert Florida’s school choice scholarships into education spending accounts. Ron Matus, redefinED.

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