UF’s draft plan for reopening, online education, buying devices, code of conduct changes and more

Reopening schools: The University of Florida has released a draft of its plan to reopen the campus for students in the fall. It calls for students and faculty to wear masks, keep a distance from each other and be tested regularly for the coronavirus. Students coming from places considered by Gov. Ron DeSantis as coronavirus hot spots, which are currently New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana, must quarantine themselves for two weeks or be cleared by testing to return to campus. Sororities and fraternities must submit safety plans before being allowed to reopen. Course scheduling is still being worked out, and most students who are reluctant to attend classes can take them online. University plans must be submitted for approval to the Board of Governors by June 23. Gainesville Sun. USF St. Petersburg’s 125-page reopening plan includes physical distancing, fewer students in classrooms, options for attending classes in person or remotely, and possibly alternating schedules for classes. It goes to the university’s board of trustees June 9. Catalyst. Here’s a database with information about fall reopening plans by colleges and universities around the country. Chronicle of Higher Education. Lee County School District Superintendent Greg Adkins suggests that the district could start the next school year with virtual classes, then offer some classes in schools while continuing online education before making a full return into schools. He doesn’t expect to have a plan completed until later this summer. WINK.

Survey paints grim online learning picture: About a third of U.S. teachers report less than 50 percent participation by students in online learning, according to a recent survey by the nonprofit advocacy group Educators for Excellence. Just 9 percent of teachers said they saw students’ participation rates over 90 percent. The survey also suggested that minority children and students who live in poverty have been more adversely affected by school closures and the switch to remote learning. Nearly half the teachers surveyed said they worry about”unrealistic expectations” of being able to quickly get those students back on track once schools reopen. The 74. Education Week. Fewer than 20 percent of Manatee County 4th- and 5th-graders completed at least 75 percent of their assignments during remote learning, said a principal at one low-income school. Bradenton Herald. Students said they have mixed feelings about distance learning. They like the extra sleep they can get, but they miss their teachers and other things about school. The 74.

Buying electronic devices: Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna is asking the school board to approve a $10.5 million plan to buy electronic devices for every student in the district. He’s proposing to spend $2.6 million a year for the next four years to buy 32,000 devices that students can use for their school work, in classrooms or at home or through online classes. “If anything positive has come out of this crisis in this situation, it’s forced our hand,” Hanna said. “We should’ve done this years ago. But now is the time, now is the chance to make this investment for the long term.” WTXL. Tallahassee Democrat.

Code of conduct changes: The Pasco County School Board is being asked to consider changes in the student code of conduct to permit punishment for student-athletes who act badly on the field or on campus or make social media posts that are considered detrimental to their teams or schools. Falling into those categories would be making harassing gestures, bullying others and portraying possible threats, said district officials. Another change would ban students from wearing pajamas or costumes to school unless it’s a special day designated by the school. Tampa Bay Times.

Graduation plans: Escambia County School District graduations will be held June 22-24, district officials have announced. Most are at the Pensacola Bay Center. All will include social distancing and wearing face masks is encouraged. Each student receives six tickets, and the ceremonies will be streamed for those who can’t attend. Pensacola News Journal. WKRG. WEAR. Some Brevard County parents are upset after the school district announced it would be postponing graduation ceremonies until July. It was the second time in three weeks the district had changed its announced plans. “Everything else seems to be opening up,” said Courtney McMahan, whose daughter is graduating from Viera High School. “It is frustrating that the county doesn’t seem to be on the same page as the school board. I understand everybody wants everybody to be healthy and safe, but it seems like there should be ways to set this up.” Florida Today. Masks and social distancing will be part of the Polk County high school graduations that begin this week. Lakeland Ledger. A graduating senior at Suwannee High School was not allowed to wear his military dress uniform during commencement last weekend, he said. Robert Warrlock has filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Education. Last year, a state law was enacted giving active military members permission to wear their dress uniforms in graduation ceremonies. Suwannee Democrat.

Summer school: Summer school begins Wednesday in Alachua County. District officials are offering recovery courses from home with paper packets or through remote learning, or on campus in computer labs. “I’m excited about seeing the kids again and having them back in school,” said Santa Fe High School teacher Elizabeth Treese. “I think it’s going to help them.” WUFT.

More on the coronavirus: Leon County School Board members are expected to vote today on an emergency request to spend almost $59,000 to restock meals at the county’s pickup sites. Tallahassee Reports. Fifty-two Palm Beach County schools will continue distributing free meals this summer. Palm Beach Post. Osceola County school employees are distributing free meals this summer at 16 schools and four other locations. Osceola County School District. Bay County school employees are making meals available every Tuesday and Thursday via bus deliveries through the summer. WJHG. The Lee County School District is asking parents to complete a survey sharing their thoughts on how to safely reopen schools in the fall. WBBH. WINK. Student-athletes in Pinellas and Pasco counties can soon start workouts at their schools. In Pinellas, workouts may begin as early as June 15, and in Pasco it’s July 1. Tampa Bay Times.

Pollution lawsuit loses: A two-year-old lawsuit that contends the state violated the constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of eight Florida students between the ages of 10 and 20 by endorsing policies that promoted pollution has been rejected by the Leon County judge. Reynolds v. State of Florida was filed in 2018 when Rick Scott was still governor, and amended after Ron DeSantis was elected. Judge Kevin Carroll agreed with the state that the issues raised were best left for the Legislature. “I still believe in my heart of hearts that the people through their elected representatives will eventually get this climate thing right,” Carroll said. Tampa Bay Times. Politico Florida. Florida Phoenix.

Superintendent search: Thirty-one is the final number of candidates for the Sarasota County School District’s job as superintendent. The 25-member citizens advisory committee meets today and again June 9 to pare the field and make a nonbinding recommendation to the school board. Among the candidates are two district administrators, eight high-ranking officials in Florida school districts, and a current school board member from neighboring Manatee County. The school board plans to make its selection July 23. The chosen person will replace Mitsi Corcoran, who has been the interim superintendent since Todd Bowden resigned last November. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Bradenton Herald.

School construction: An $18.1 million renovation project at Tarpon Springs High School in Pinellas County has been completed. Among the improvements: a new 12,261-square-foot building to house the Leadership Conservatory for the Arts, new landscaping, new flooring and carpet, upgraded HVAC systems, and repaired drainage problems. School Construction News.

Counseling for students: Grief counselors are being made available for students at North Port High School who are mourning the death of an 18-year-old male classmate in a traffic accident last weekend. An 18-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl were seriously injured when the car went out of control around a curve and hit several trees. Charlotte Sun.

School bus drivers needed: The Pinellas County School District is looking to hire 50 school bus drivers and 110 bus assistants for the next school year. WFTS.

Opinions on schools: The class of 2020 was born in the year of 9/11, started school during the 2008 recession, came of age in an era of school shootings, and graduated during a pandemic. It’s the class of resiliency. Danielle Ivanov, Sun Sentinel. Here’s a thought for our high school graduates: Life never gets easy. But for some of you, at least in some ways, it might get easier. Jim Ross, Ocala Star-Banner.

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BY NextSteps staff