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Education

We're dedicated to telling you stories about policy and public spending, and how they affect students in Florida schools. Our WUSF News reporters team up with our public media partners across Florida to bring you a more comprehensive look at learning.

To see coverage from our prior StateImpact Florida project, visit here.

Sign for Lake Magadalene Elementary in Hillsborough County
Susan Giles Wantuck/WUSF Public Media

Let's face it, life is hard with the ever-looming specter of coronavirus. School has been online for it seems like forever and now children are having to deal with milestone transitions like moving from elementary school to middle school in a not-so-ordinary way.

POLK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT/FACEBOOK

Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd on Tuesday announced her retirement effective next year in a strongly worded letter to the school board that cited “disharmony” among board members.

Man in uniform stands near school gate as children file in
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media

Every morning at Dover Elementary, near the strawberry fields of Plant City, upbeat music used to blare from speakers outside the front gate. I first met school resource officer Pedro Arroyo there one day in January. He greeted the children as they came in. Many stopped to give him a handshake, a fist bump, or a hug. 

African-American woman speaks on a Zoom call with other school board members
Kerry Sheridan/WUSF

Polk County Schools adopted an anti-fraternization policy this week for the first time, after two sexual harassment scandals in the last several years.

The call for defined guidelines from the state on what steps will be needed to reopen schools is now coming from district superintendents.

The Florida Association of District School Superintendents wants specific guidance on things like student-to-teacher ratio, what to do for large gatherings like lunch and recess, and how many students can ride buses at one time. It also wants a list of personal protective items that must be in each classroom.

Updated on May 12 at 11:20 a.m. ET

A for-profit college received millions of dollars from the federal government to help low-income students whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus outbreak, but that same school, Florida Career College (FCC), is also accused of defrauding students.

Starting Monday, Advanced Placement exams, which test high schoolers' knowledge of college material, will take an unusual form. The high-anxiety, college credit tests normally last three hours and are taken in person. But this year, in response to disruptions from the coronavirus outbreak, the College Board, which administers AP exams, shortened the tests to 45 minutes and moved them online.

May 7 is the date that Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, declared it was safe to open up schools. The state has had fewer than 500 reported cases of the coronavirus as of this week.

Florida’s journey into remote and online education is revealing new divisions among the haves and have-nots: those with internet access, and those without it. The gap is most prevalent in rural parts of the state where school districts are using workarounds to keep kids engaged. The issue is bolstering an argument that’s been simmering for a while now: is the internet a want, or a need?

In a significant shift for college sports, the NCAA's top governing body said it supports a rule change allowing student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, so long as the college or university they attend does not pay them directly.

TALLAHASSEE --- In an issue that has drawn heavy debate in the Legislature, a divided appeals court Wednesday backed the Palm Beach County School Board in a fight about whether charter schools should get a cut of voter-approved tax dollars.

high school students sitting in a classroom
Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg

Catholic schools in the Tampa Bay area are following the lead of public health officials and cancelling in-person classes for the rest of the school year.

For many young people, sheltering at home means missing milestones and public recognition of their achievements. This is especially true for seniors graduating from high school and college.

Kendall Smith, a high school senior who lives in Tallahassee, Fla., says her school has many traditions leading up to graduation. But this year things are very different.

empty desk in a classroom with some kids visible from the back
iStock

Public and private schools statewide will continue distance-learning through the end of the school year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Saturday.

A shot of the exterior of Countryside High School in Clearwater.
Carl Lisciandrello/WUSF Public Media

Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis floated the idea of possibly reopening some public schools in May.

Florida's statewide teachers' union was quick to urge DeSantis to rethink the opening of schools. Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram said doing so would "threaten the safety and well-being of all on campus."

WUSF asked parents and teachers what they think should be done in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SCHOOLS

UPDATE: We asked, and you answered. Nearly 82% of those who responded say Florida schools should remain closed. [Read more]

KERRY SHERIDAN/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

The statewide teachers’ union Tuesday called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to keep school campuses closed for the rest of this academic year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

graduates in blue caps and gowns sit in a large cluster, presumably mid ceremony
Creative Commons

Amid uncertainty about the coronavirus and the continuation of social distancing, school officials in Polk County are offering its more than 5,800 seniors the chance to vote on the format for their graduation ceremonies.

Among the options: rescheduling the traditional ceremony, a virtual recognition, or a drive-thru graduation.

WFSU

Gov. Ron DeSantis is on the fence about shutting school campuses statewide for the rest of the academic year, but he said on Thursday some students may return to school sooner than others.

NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Nearly three years after lawmakers passed a controversial measure that sought to bolster charter schools, the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down a constitutional challenge by county school boards.

man and woman sit on chairs and speak to each other in front of City of Tampa seal
City of Tampa Facebook

Public and charter K-12 schools around the state are conducting classes online through May 1 due to COVID-19.

Hillsborough County Schools superintendent Addison Davis is indicating that may be the way it is for the rest of the school year.

empty desks with students at desks in background
iStock

Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is recommending the state’s K-12 public schools remain closed through May 1.

On March 17, the state’s district and charter schools implemented distance learning for all students through April 15 because of the threat of COVID-19.

Edsby error message
COURTESY: DONNA CLARK

If you're having trouble logging into your child's Edsby account, you're not alone.

As Hillsborough County schools make the switch to remote instruction, teachers and parents are having trouble logging into the county's online learning platform.

Bull statues on USF Tampa campus
Carl Lisciandrello/WUSF Public Media

State officials made the decision to cancel all in-person classes for the remainder of the school term.  

Schools and universities across the Tampa Bay area are now having to gear up for the transition to online instruction.

Gov Ron Desantis at podium during a press conference
Facebook Live

Florida students will not return to classes until after April 15, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday afternoon.

Additionally, all remaining testing will be cancelled for the remainder of the school year and there will be no school grades released for the 2019-2020 school year.

empty classroom
iStock

The coronavirus outbreak has led the Florida Department of Education to close all public schools across the state through March 27.

Local public schools are preparing for online learning in case they have to close due to coronavirus.

Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

After it appeared the House and Senate had agreed on spending $500 million to increase teacher salaries, the Senate on Sunday proposed increasing the amount to $600 million.

A bill aimed at making Florida schools safer just passed a full chamber vote in the House. The proposal includes penalties for school officials and adds members to a school safety committee, among other changes.

Holocaust history lessons could be expanded in Florida if a bill heading to the Senate floor becomes law. The measure would require teachers to show current examples of antisemitism as well as historical ones, among other requirements. Magda Bader, a holocaust survivor, came to the Capitol this week to support the proposal.

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