DeSantis doubles down on keeping masks optional in Florida schools

·2 min read

As renewed debate over the need for school mask mandates grew, Gov. Ron DeSantis chimed in during a news conference to tout a new law on student literacy. He repeated his position opposing compulsory face coverings. He also went a bit further. Read on for that story and more Florida education news, including some major recognition for a Pinellas County teacher.

Word has spread that the federal government might propose a mask requirement in schools. DeSantis said he’d fight that effort, along with any local school district’s move to defy his position on masks. He also said he wouldn’t allow any more lockdowns, Florida Phoenix reports.

Few districts show any signs of returning to mask mandates. Marion County schools plan to keep them optional, the Ocala Star Banner reports. Same for Palm Beach County schools, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Concerns about coronavirus spread remain. The Alachua County school district entered an agreement with the local health department to add more nurses to schools to help mitigate the virus, WUFT reports.

Florida is not the only state where governors are getting involved in school mask debates. It’s happening in North Carolina and Georgia, too, Yahoo News reports.

Hot topics

Lessons about race: Florida school district leaders stress that they don’t teach “critical race theory.” Some expect accusations that teachers are violating the state’s ban on the model nonetheless. They’re looking into how to deal with such complaints.

Florida’s Teacher of the Year: Sarah Ann Painter is a fifth-grade teacher at Pinellas County’s Eisenhower Elementary.

Learning to read: DeSantis celebrated a new program that will send free books to elementary students who struggle with reading, Florida Politics reports.

School safety: The Lee County Sheriff’s Office will take over patrolling schools in the city of Fort Myers. The city police department had provided resource officers previously, WINK reports. • The Santa Rosa County school district is researching whether to implement the state’s school guardian program, which it has not used since the program’s inception, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

Bus driver shortage: The Brevard County school district announced it has hired enough new drivers to keep routes running smoothly, Florida Today reports.

School news

Broward County has an interim superintendent. The School Board’s choice came on the narrowest of margins, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

The Flagler County school district reached an exclusive deal with AdventHealth. It includes athletic training, mental health services and lots of advertising, Flagler Live reports.

A Volusia County assistant principal has accused the district of discrimination. He claims he was demoted because he is Black, the Daytona Times reports.

It’s contract negotiation time for many Florida teachers unions. The sides hit an impasse over money in Orange County this week, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

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

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