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Student restraints, Holocaust education, tax holiday, panic alarms, coronavirus and more

Student restraints: A bill that would restrict the use of restraints and seclusion against students with disabilities has been approved by the Senate Education Appropriations Committee and is headed for a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee. S.B. 1644 would prohibit seclusion, and allow restraints only to avoid the imminent harm of a child. “We need to do it in a way that protects everyone,” said Senate Education Appropriations chair Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. “This language has done that. … I hope to get it over the finish line.” The companion bill, H.B. 1231, is ready for a second committee hearing in the House. Gradebook.

Holocaust education: A bill that would expand Holocaust education in Florida’s schools, including instruction about anti-Semitism, was approved Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill also requires districts to annually certify their curriculum to the state Department of Education. The next stop for the bill, which is sponsored by state Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, is a vote in the full Senate. The House’s companion bill, H.B. 1213, has cleared three committees and is awaiting a vote in the full House. Florida Politics. Florida Phoenix.

Back-to-school tax holiday: The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a 10-day back-to-school tax holiday on certain clothing items, school supplies and computers or other electronic equipment. The tax holiday would be July 31 through Aug. 9, and is projected to cost the state $50.3 million in general revenue taxes and local governments $14.8 million. The House bill, H.B. 7097, calls for just a three-day tax holiday. A Senate-House conference committee will have to reconcile the differences. News Service of Florida.

Panic alarms: The bill requiring panic alarms in all Florida schools was approved on Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill, which is now headed to the full Senate for a vote, was introduced after a recommendation from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. The House version of the bill has also been approved by three committees. Florida Politics. WTVT.

Coronavirus precautions: Gov. Ron DeSantis said there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state, yet. But colleges and universities are canceling study abroad programs, and state school districts continue to make preparations for a potential outbreak. Associated Press. Tallahassee Democrat. News Service of Florida. Florida Phoenix. Florida Today. TCPalm. Bradenton Herald. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Flagler Live. Key West Citizen. WKMG. WTXL. WFLA. WINK.

Protest day considered: Duval County students should get a day off every school year “to encourage our students to be more civic-minded,” said school board member Elizabeth Andersen. She’s encouraging the board to consider giving students a day to allow them “real-life opportunities to learn and engage in the issues that matter to them and their families.” A spokeswoman for the district said more research would be needed before the issue is brought up to the full board. WJXT.

Absenteeism alert: The number of Alachua County students who are considered chronically absent because they miss 18 days or more of school a year grew to 11.6 percent in the 2018-2019 school year. The district has several programs in place to address attendance problems, but more needs to be done, said school board chair Eileen Roy. “It just is shocking really,” she said.”We just have to do something about this absenteeism.” WUFT.

Sales tax initiative: The dispute between the Duval County School Board and the Jacksonville City Council over the placement of a sales tax initiative on the ballot appears to be over. The council, which opposed the tax a few months ago, now is expected to put the half-cent sales tax hike on the ballot in November. The tax could raise about $1.2 billion over the next 15 years for repairing and replacing schools. WJXT.

District aces audit test: The Polk County School District has no flaws in internal control, compliance, financial statements, federal program compliance or local investment policy, according to an annual audit of its operations by a financial firm. “This is a remarkable report for an organization this size and it’s the kind of thing that we should be celebrating and announcing,” said school board member Lynn Wilson. The district is asking voters in November to improve a 1-mill property tax increase to help pay for employee raises. Lakeland Ledger.

Notable deaths: Charles “Corky” Rogers, a head football coach at Lee High School and the Bolles School for 45 years until he retired in 2016, has died at the age of 76. His teams won 465 games and 10 state championships, both the most in the state’s history. Florida Times-Union. Associated Press. WJXT. WJAX.

Spelling bee winner: Erik Williams, a 7th-grader at the St. Johns Country Day School in Clay County, has won the First Coast Spelling Bee in Jacksonville for the second year in a row to qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. WJXT.

Students and the law: An Indian River County sheriff’s deputy detained a 13-year-old Storm Grove Middle School student who told other students he had a knife during an argument at a school bus stop. The boy told deputies he thought he could take a knife to school if it was sunder a certain size. TCPalm.

Student enrichment: A handful of south Florida schools are experimenting with an anti-bullying program called Bridg-it that encourages students to use social media only in a positive way. WTVJ. Friends of Augusta Savage, a nonprofit honoring an African-American sculptor from Clay County, is teaming with Bennett Elementary School in Green Cove Springs to make good clothes available for needy students. WJXT. Seventeen Lee County students conduct a Q&A with U.S. astronaut Jessica Meir from the International Space Station. It was NASA’s 300th down link video connection from space, and Lee County’s first. Fort Myers News-Press.

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BY NextSteps staff