Florida schools back away from mask mandates

·3 min read

Schools and universities across Florida continued to grapple with coronavirus protocols in the aftermath of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s decision to prohibit mask requirements, as a matter of parental rights. The schools that had planned mandates backed off, out of fear of penalties from the state, despite their concerns that student and employee health might be compromised. They also dealt with a variety of other matters as the return of students loomed. Read on for the latest Florida education news.

The Broward County district reversed its recently imposed a new mask mandate. The district released this statement Monday: “Broward County Public Schools intends to comply with the Governor’s latest Executive Order. ... Safety remains our highest priority. The District will advocate for all eligible students and staff to receive vaccines and strongly encourage masks to be worn by everyone in schools. The District will also work to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including frequent cleaning and disinfecting of our schools, physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick. The District is continuing to collaborate with our local health organizations to monitor trends in the spread of COVID-19 and variants.”

The Gadsden County school district followed suit. Officials said they would follow as much of the CDC guidance ‘as the governor will allow,’ the News Service of Florida reports.

The governor’s order did not speak to colleges or private schools. Still, some ended their existing mask mandates, too. Pensacola State College called off its requirement, citing the order, the Pensacola News Journal reports. • The Diocese of St. Augustine also made masks optional for its schools after the governor’s action, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Meanwhile, Florida leads the nation in kids hospitalized with COVID. Infections in children under 12 also increased.

The chairman of Palm Beach County’s School Board said districts remain free to adopt whatever rules they see fit. But the governor has given parents the right to ignore those rules, WPTV reports. The issue is set to come up at the board’s Wednesday meeting. More from the Palm Beach Post.

Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he’s walking a tightrope on masks. He wants a policy that will keep everyone safe while also not losing state funding, CNN reports. More from Florida Politics.

The governor’s order didn’t talk about teachers. The Alachua County school district decided to require masks for all employees as COVID cases rise, Main Street Daily News reports.

The Orange County school district revised its safety protocols for the new year. Teacher union leaders called on the district to do more to protect employees and students, WKMG reports.

Several Seminole County families raised concerns about school safety after the end of mask mandates. The district extended its registration deadline for virtual school in response, WKMG reports.

Vaccine mandates are popping up. Nova Southeastern University and the University of Miami are the latest to tell all faculty to get vaccinated, the Miami Herald reports.

What do kids think about school mask rules? They had a mixed view of the usefulness, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Other school news

The University of South Florida is moving on from president Steve Currall. The Board of Trustees approved Rhea Law as interim president, and authorized about $1 million to pay off Currall over the next 15 months.

Summer’s over. Sarasota and Manatee teachers return to their classrooms this week, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Concerns over students’ lost learning time come front and center this year. The Miami-Dade and Broward school districts are taking steps to get students back on track, the Miami Herald reports.

State officials said they wouldn’t roll back school district tax rates. But they did, at a financial cost to districts, the Ledger reports.

A six-figure oversight. A Palm Beach County school district administrator collected more than $130,000 in salary while doing no work for nearly a year, the Palm Beach Post reports.

The Jackson County school district has revised its student dress code. It gave students more choices, WMBB reports.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s the link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... Bob Dylan’s Girl From the North Country returns to Broadway this fall. And the soundtrack is out this month. How did we not hear of this before now?

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