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Police in schools, higher education rankings, Broward teachers ordered to report, and more

Police in schools: Activists in Florida are pressuring districts to cut the number of police officers in schools, arguing that they’re intimidating to students of color, raising the arrest rates in schools and increasing the potential to feed the school-to-prison pipeline. But those pushing for change are running into a major obstacle: the 2018 shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The event shifted the conversation about school security and brought on laws mandating armed officers and stronger security measures in schools. So students are setting their sights a little lower, and are campaigning to replace some officers with more teachers, social workers and counselors. WLRN

Higher education rankings: The University of Florida remains the top school in the state, according to the latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report. UF also finished tied for 30th among national universities. The University of Miami was second in the state and tied for 49th nationally, followed by Florida State University (third and tied for 58th), the University of South Florida (fourth and tied for 103rd), and the University of Central Florida (fifth and tied for 160th). Both UF and FSU ranked among the top 20 public universities in the country, with UF 6th and FSU 19th, while USF is 46th and UCF 77th. Florida A&M University was again ranked the nation’s top historically black college or university. U.S. News & World Report. News Service of Florida. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Tallahassee Democrat. Gainesville Sun. Tampa Bay TimesFlorida Politics. Lakeland Ledger. WTXL. Florida Phoenix. State University System of Florida.

Around the state: The Florida Department of Health hoped to have a statewide coronavirus dashboard posted today but now says it’s still working on it, Miami-Dade School Board members want to hear from the medical advisory panel before deciding on when to reopen classrooms, Broward teachers have been told they have to report to classrooms when schools reopen or take a leave of absence, and concurrent teaching remains a source of contention between teachers and districts. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts and private schools:

Miami-Dade: School board members decided Monday that they want to hear from the district’s panel of medical advisers before considering when to reopen schools. The county moved into Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, prompting Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to suggest that the district might reopen its classrooms earlier than expected. The medical panel meets Thursday. WLRN. WFOR.

Broward: Teachers will no longer be permitted to work from home when schools are reopened for students, according to an email sent Monday to school board members by Jeff Moquin, chief of staff to Superintendent Robert Runcie. They will be required to report to classrooms and simultaneously teach both in-person and virtual learners, Moquin wrote, and those who are not comfortable with the arrangement will have to take a leave of absence. Teachers union president Anna Fusco said she has a “ginormous problem” with the decision, and said the union is still negotiating the parameters of a return. No reopening date has been set, but Runcie has said it should be sometime in October. Sun Sentinel. WFOR.

Orange: Positive coronavirus tests have now been reported at 61 campuses, or 30 percent of its schools, according to the district’s coronavirus dashboard that was launched Monday. So far, 114 positive tests have been reported, with 636 people have been asked to quarantine because they tested positive or came into contact with someone who did. Students make up 560 of that total. That’s less than 1 percent of the approximately 63,700 who are taking classes in-person. The dashboard will be updated daily at 11:59 p.m. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. WESH. Billie Dean, a longtime teacher who helped integrate Apopka High School and later served on the city council for almost 25 years, has died at the age of 89. Orlando Sentinel.

Palm Beach: More than 77,700 students have indicated they will stick with remote learning when the district reopens its classrooms to students Monday. That’s nearly 46 percent of all students. About 58,650 prefer in-person instruction. Twenty percent of students have not chosen a preference. Palm Beach Post. About 1,500 of the 1,929 employees who applied to work remotely are eligible for reassignment, said district human resources director Gonzalvo La Cava. Now the district must determine how many remote workers it needs. WPTV.

Duval: A school bus monitor tested positive for the coronavirus last week. She said she contracted it from a student, whose mother said the child had been infected by another school employee. District bus drivers have complained about their working conditions. The bus services is provided by Student Transportation of America, which contracts with the district. Florida Times-Union. Activists have begun a campaign against the proposed renaming of nine county schools that honor Confederate generals and officials. Melanie Love, who graduated from Jacksonville’s Robert E. Lee High School in 1979, created a website called “It has nothing to do with defending an era of history. It simply has to do with defending the history and legacy of 92 graduating classes from Robert E. Lee,” said Love. WJCT.

Polk: The number of coronavirus infections in the school district now stands at 109, with 51 schools affected. Lakeland Ledger. The Roberts Academy, the only transitional school in the state for dyslexic students, opened a new building Monday on the Florida Southern College campus for students in grades 6-8. Lakeland Ledger.

Pinellas: The district and its teachers union continue to be at odds over the practice of concurrent teaching, in which teachers are giving instruction to in-person and online students simultaneously. During a negotiation session Monday, administrators said fewer than 100 teachers still have issues with the practice. Union president Nancy Velardi said its surveys show teachers are exasperated with it, and suggested the district conduct a full survey of all teachers. Deputy superintendent Bill Corbett said the district would consider the suggestion. Tampa Bay Times. WTSP.

Lee: A classroom at Gateway Elementary School in Fort Myers has been quarantined because of a positive COVID-19 test. Students from that classroom will switch to remote learning for 14 days. Fort Myers News-Press. WINK. Two former employees at the Canterbury School in Fort Myers have been arrested and accused of sexual misconduct with minors. One of them, Joseph Comperchio, 66, was accused of assaulting two children when he taught at a school in Jackson, Mich., in the 1970s. WZVN. WFTX. Lansing State Journal. Associated Press.

Pasco: The school district is opening three sites this week to offer students and employees free rapid-results coronavirus testing. Results should be available within 48 hours. The sites at Land O’ Lakes High, Gulf Middle and Pasco Elementary are not open to the public. Tampa Bay Times.

Brevard: The district and the teachers union resume contract talks Wednesday. Some minor contract changes have been agreed to, but no deals have been reached on raises, health insurance premiums and parental leave. Florida Today.

Osceola: District officials are beginning to test students in pools, based on where they live and starting in the Kissimmee area. In pool testing, groups of samples are mixed and tested at the same time. If the congregate sample comes back negative, all the students are cleared. If it comes back positive, students are tested individually. WFTV.

Seminole: Power was out for several hours at Teague Middle School in Altamonte Springs on Monday after a tree fell on some power lines. Both in-person and online learners were affected. WOFL.

Collier: District officials reversed their earlier decision not to release information on coronavirus cases, and will update the online dashboard Monday through Friday by 7 p.m. Twenty-seven students and nine employees have contracted the coronavirus since schools opened Aug. 31. Naples Daily News. Students and teachers were locked out of the district’s virtual learning classrooms for several hours Monday when a storm interrupted the controls for an air conditioning system that cools the district’s computer servers and network systems. The network was restored by about 11 a.m., but some problems are still being addressed. Naples Daily News.

Sarasota, Charlotte: Sixteen positive coronavirus cases have now been reported in the Sarasota County School District. Its coronavirus dashboard indicates six cases among high schools, six in elementaries, one in a middle school, two in a combination of schools and one employee. In Charlotte County, four positive cases have been reported, though the district does not provide further details. Charlotte Sun.

Northwest Florida: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Bay, Okaloosa, Franklin, Gulf and Walton schools are closed again today because of the projected impact of Hurricane Sally, which is expected to make landfall near the Louisiana-Mississippi border tonight. Escambia schools will also be closed Wednesday, officials announced. Northwest Florida Daily News. Pensacola News Journal. Panama City News Herald. Port St. Joe Star. WEAR. WTXL. WCTV. WMBB. Florida Department of Education.

Alachua: Nine COVID-19 cases have been reported among students after two weeks of classes, and six of them are in elementary schools. Six employees have also been infected, but district officials said there’s no indication any of those happened in schools. Gainesville Sun. The district has handed out 2,300 electronic devices and 1,000 hot spots to students who needed help connecting for online learning. But officials are struggling to connect with families who need help in getting signed into the system and navigating the online platform. WUFT.

Martin: The four finalists for the school superintendent’s job will be interviewed by school board members on Wednesday. The interviews will be livestreamed. The board will also conduct interviews Thursday that are closed to the public, and expects to announce its decision Sept. 22. TCPalm.

Indian River: A district employee has tested positive for the coronavirus, and one student who had close contact with that employee has been asked to quarantine. The employee worked at both Sebastian River Middle School and Sebastian River High. WPTV. WPEC.

Monroe: Students who chose fulltime in-person learning were welcomed back to the classroom Monday. “The schools were full today,” said Superintendent Theresa Axford. “All the kids have their masks on. Everybody is 6-foot social distancing. The markings in the schools are amazing.” The district began a phased-in return Aug. 31. Miami Herald.

Gadsden: A kindergarten teacher at Stewart Street Elementary School in Quincy has tested positive for the coronavirus. The teacher and seven students have been asked to quarantine for 14 days, and the classroom will not be used. WCTV.

More on the coronavirus: School districts around the country have been launching online educational programs to cater to the needs of students whose health concerns preclude a return to in-person instruction. But those virtual programs typically have students-to-teacher ratios that are almost three times higher than in the average classroom, and classes of nearly 100 are not uncommon. Arizona Republic. Two new Florida Atlantic University studies conclude that layered cotton face masks are better at curbing the spread of coronavirus particles than plastic shields, neck gaiters and masks with valves. Sun Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: It is difficult to think of an industry more regulated than K-12 education. Educators today face a complex web of local, state and federal regulation. If regulation were the key to high quality education, we would be set. Matthew Ladner, redefinED. The training for concurrent teaching in the Volusia County School District was as effective as teaching me how to use a set of power tools and then ordering me to build an airplane. Brandon Haught, Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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BY NextSteps staff