Quarantine periods changing, ex-board member hired by Volusia district, educators honored and more

Around the state: The Miami-Dade County School District is sticking with the 14-day coronavirus quarantine period for now, while schools in Lake, Brevard and Okaloosa counties have reduced isolation times, Duval school board members agree to consider selling the district’s main office building, a tentative contract agreement is reached between teachers and the Duval school district, a Volusia County School Board member who lost her seat in the November election has been hired by the district, Flagler selects the district’s principal and assistant principal of the year, three Pasco educators are nominated for the teacher of the year award, and the Manatee school board is considering extending the contract of Superintendent Cynthia Saunders. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts and private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: The district will stick with its 14-day coronavirus quarantine policy for now, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said at a joint school board-health task force meeting Monday. He also said he’s not seeing any evidence that schools are acting as superspreaders of the virus, and told the groups that the more immediate problems are students who are not attending any schools, in-person or online, and excessive truancy by those learning remotely. It was the first meeting of the task force since schools reopened in October. Miami Herald. WLRN. WPLG. WFOR. WTVJ.

Duval: School board members unanimously agreed Monday to explore the sale of the main office on the St. Johns River and look for a new location where all the district’s administration can be located. Superintendent Diana Greene will start working on a proposal, which could be ready for consideration by March. WJXT. The district and the union representing teachers have reached a tentative agreement on a contract that will boost starting teacher pay to $45,891 and provide raises to veteran teachers. Union membership will vote on the deal Dec. 17. WJXT. Rory Doss, an 11-year-old 5th-grader at the River City Science Academy in Jacksonville, has been named one of the nation’s 100 Best of the Best Financial Whiz Kids of 2020 by the BusyKid app that was developed to help children between the ages of 6 and 16 handle their money. Florida Times-Union.

Pasco: Three finalists have been chosen for the teacher of the year award. They are: Jayme D’Avanzo, who teaches language arts at Krinn Technical High School; Craig Jacobowitz, an art teacher at San Antonio Elementary; and Seven Springs Middle Chinese language teacher Yan Li Gazda. The winner will be announced next week. Four finalists for support employee of the year were also selected. They are Pam Paone of River Ridge High, Catherine Pinteralli of Trinity Elementary, Jewell Fye of Wiregrass Ranch High and Nancy Reese of Zephyrhills High. Previously honored by the district were principal of the year Joel DiVincent of Paul R. Smith Middle, assistant principal of the year Andrea Altman of Quail Hollow Elementary and administrator of the year Vaughnette Chandler. Tampa Bay Times.

Brevard: Asymptomatic students and school employees exposed at school to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus will now be quarantined for 10 days instead of 14, according to the district’s new policy. Students who participate in extracurricular activities where social distancing isn’t possible will be permitted to return to school on the 11th day after quarantining but must abstain from the activities until the 15th day. Students and staff exposed to the virus through their family are still required to quarantine for 14 days. Spectrum News 13. A 17-year-old student was arrested Monday for allegedly having a gun at Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne. Police said the 10th-grader was carrying the gun in his backpack. School officials said they were tipped off by other students who saw a post on social media that showed the boy with a gun and indicated he would have it at school. Florida Today. WKMG.

Volusia: Ida Wright, who was defeated last month in her bid to be re-elected to the District 2 school board seat, has been hired by the district for a part-time position in the human resources department that focuses on diversity and equity. She’ll work 20 hours a week and be paid $35 an hour, according to H.R. director Rachel Hazel. The propriety of hiring someone who was turned out by voters just over a month ago without taking applications is being questioned by some teachers. Daytona Beach News-Journal. The FBI has joined the search for a district teacher who has been missing since late October. Robert Heikka, 70, a computer teacher at Creekside Middle School, didn’t show up for work on Oct. 26, and his coworkers called police when he was also not at his home in Port Orange. Daytona Beach News-Journal. WKMG.

Manatee: School board members are considering extending the contract of Superintendent Cynthia Saunders, and could vote on it as early as today. Her contract runs through June, but if the board wants to extend it an agreement must be reached by Dec. 31. Board member Scott Hopes said he wanted to extend the deal through June 2022. Saunders became the interim superintendent in June 2018 after Diana Greene left for the same job in Duval County. The interim label was removed from her title in February 2019, when she agreed to a deal through June 2021 at a pay rate of $196,000 a year. Bradenton Herald. Eighteen new coronavirus cases at 10 schools have been reported by district officials since schools reopened after the Thanksgiving break. More than 230 students and employees were ordered to quarantine for two weeks. Bradenton Herald. Four county students have been honored for creating an app that calculates the proper dosages for medicine. Ava Biasini, Jordan Sheehan, Kolby Wade and Nolwen Bachtle developed the Valitudo app when a friend nearly died after taking a miscalculated dosage. WTSP.

Collier: The school district’s migrant staff members are tasked with helping the children of migrant workers get to school and use the available resources to succeed. This school year, those workers are getting creative to find students and help them get the tools they need to learn. “If that meant in the middle of a pandemic our migrant staff were literally delivering devices to those families and hotspots to those families, we were doing that,” said Diana Holden, assistant director of federal and state grants. “If that meant our resource teacher was literally going face-to-face after multiple attempts, and just not being able to help them virtually, we were doing that because these are our most at-risk students.” Southwest Florida is home to one of the state’s largest farmworker communities. Naples Daily News.

Lake: Quarantine requirements are being shortened for students and employees who test positive for the coronavirus or are exposed to it. Those who test positive can return to school after 10 days instead of the previous 14 if they are asymptomatic. Those who are exposed can return after seven days if they’ve tested negative, or 10 days without a test and are symptom-free. The changes go into effect immediately. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. Spectrum News 13.

St. Johns: Students will no longer be able to switch between in-person and online learning once the second semester begins, and teachers won’t be teaching students face-to-face and virtually at the same time, Superintendent Tim Forson announced Monday. WJXT.

Marion: Cathy Gotcher, a paraprofessional and substitute teacher at Reddick-Collier Elementary School, has been named the district’s school-related employee of the year. The other finalists were: Carolyn McCool, a receptionist at Osceola Middle; Courtney Morris, a paraprofessional at Stanton-Weirsdale Elementary; Tammy Smith, a sub, yearbook adviser and volunteer coordinator at Emerald Shores Elementary; and Rebekah Vazquez, a permit specialist for the district’s facilities department. Ocala Star-Banner.

Okaloosa: The school district has been given the go-ahead by health officials to shorten quarantine times for students and employees who have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus. The new guidelines state that exposed people who stay asymptomatic for a full week can end their quarantine if they get a negative nasal test on the sixth day. About 50 students and employees could be affected by the change. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Charlotte: An 11-year-old student at Woodland Middle School in North Port has been arrested and accused of threatening gun violence against the school. Police said one of the text messages the boy sent read: “If Hitler is alive, I need him to bomb Woodland. Hitler is King. And Ted Bundy is God.” The boy and two friends were angry with a teacher and their assignments. Charlotte Sun.

Flagler: Jeff Reaves of Matanzas High School has been named the district’s principal of the year and Stacia Collier of Buddy Taylor Middle School is the assistant principal of the year, Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt announced Monday. Palm Coast Observer.

Colleges and universities: John Delaney, the former president of the University of North Florida, will be the interim president of Flagler College after president Joe Joyner retires June 30. St. Augustine Record.

Around the nation: The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of a court ruling that an Oregon school district’s policy allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity did not violate the constitutional rights of other students. Associated Press. A federal judge has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, which gives the 1-million-plus students and other children brought to the U.S. hope that they can stay in the country. Politico. Miami Herald. A school district in Oklahoma has decided to group students who have tested positive for the coronavirus so they can continue their face-to-face learning. NPR. Several large school districts in the United States have been victimized by ransomware, and cybersecurity experts predict that the attacks will continue and begin to spread to home networks. Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Opinions on schools: Having a seven-child school with two teachers in a guest house, as music producer DJ Khaled has done, may strike some as being a bit out of reach of the average American family. But in Arizona, micro-school genius Prenda partners with districts, charters and families who use education savings accounts to form micro-school communities, and a growing number of school districts, cities and philanthropies have been helping to create small learning communities around the country as well. Matthew Ladner, redefinED. A federal judge’s ruling is good news for young people who were brought to this country illegally, but the United States needs more than piecemeal immigration policies. Miami Herald.

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BY NextSteps staff