Coronavirus aid package: Early this morning, Senate and House leaders reached an agreement on a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus aid package. The full details have not been announced, but it’s expected that $250 billion will be used for direct one-time payments to individuals and families with a reported $1,200 going to most adults and $500 to most children, with $350 billion going toward small business loans, $250 billion for unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies. It’s unknown how much money will go to help schools. The House package targeted $50 billion for education, with $15 billion going directly to K-12 schools. The Senate proposed $20 billion. An independent inspector general and a board will be appointed to provide spending oversight. The bill is expected to be approved in the Senate and House, and signed by President Donald Trump. Associated Press. New York Times. Washington Post. Education Week. The numbers are not yet known, but Florida is expected to take a huge revenue hit from the measures taken to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Sales-tax revenues account for nearly 80 percent of the state’s general revenue. Car sales are the single biggest source of that revenue, and sales have plummeted an estimated 35 percent from a year ago. Restaurants, hotels and event admissions account for 20 percent of the sales tax revenues, and all are in full or partial shutdowns. A fuller picture of the damage may not be known before April 20, when businesses send in their sales tax collections to the state. Orlando Sentinel. Gannett.
Self-isolation ordered: Gov. Ron DeSantis is urging two weeks of self-isolation for all Floridians 65 or older and those who have traveled from New York state in the past three weeks. DeSantis has declined to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, as other state governors have done, calling it an overreaction. He has asked President Trump to declare Florida a disaster area so it will be eligible for federal aid. Associated Press. News Service of Florida. Florida Politics. Sun Sentinel. WKMG. Meanwhile, Orange County, Leon County, Tallahassee, Alachua County, Gainesville, Miami, Miami Beach and other governments have already issued stay-at-home orders, and officials in Pinellas County, Tampa and St. Petersburg are expected to as well. Orlando Sentinel. Tallahassee Democrat. WTXL. Gainesville Sun. WFTS. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Politics. Miami Herald. President Trump said he hopes to relax the social-distancing guidelines by Easter, April 12. When the initial 15-day effort of limiting person-to-person contact ends Monday, Trump said, “We’ll assess at that time and we’ll give it some more time if we need a little more time, but we need to open this country up. We have to go back to work, much sooner than people thought.” He also suggested schools will be reopening. Associated Press. Politico.
Online instruction: Several more school districts have detailed their plans for online instruction. In Sarasota County, teachers begin training Monday on the use of the Zoom program for virtual classes, which debut April 1. The district said classes will be held a maximum of three hours a day, and bus drivers will probably be asked to deliver paper learning materials to younger students and those without Internet access. School officials expect the school year to be extended to meet the state requirements for instructional hours. In St. Johns County, the district is leasing 4,000 wifi hotpots to issue to students without Internet access, and teachers will use the Schoology learning management website when online classes begin Monday. In Citrus County, a plan was put together in a collaboration between the district and teachers that rolls out Monday. Teachers will assess whether students are best served with paper materials or online instruction. And in Polk County, 60,000 electronic devices are being loaned to students, and teachers are preparing a curriculum that uses online instruction and paper classroom work. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Citrus County Chronicle. St. Augustine Record. Lakeland Ledger. School districts continue to make preparations to hold online classes for students by handing out electronic devices to students, training teachers and assembling materials. Tampa Bay Times. WJCT. Daily Commercial. Naples Daily News. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Northwest Florida Daily News. WFTS. Santa Rosa Post-Gazette. WTXL. Florida Phoenix. TCPalm. WINK. WEAR. Brevard County teachers and school officials have reached an agreement on what is expected from those who are teaching online. Space Coast Daily. Florida Today. The Florida foundation Lauren’s Kids, which offers supports for child abuse victims, is offering tips to parents to keep children safe from sexual predators during the switchover to online learning. Florida Politics.
More on the coronavirus: Manatee County school officials say a person with the coronavirus was at W.D. Sugg Middle School in Bradenton before spring break, and the school has been closed for the rest of the week. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The Orange County School District has canceled high school proms and other graduation-related celebrations, though not yet the graduation ceremonies. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. Even as Florida schools remain closed, hundreds of pre-K and day-care centers have stayed open. Politico Florida. The disruption caused by the coronavirus, from education interruption to layoffs to an economic downturn, is likely to have a a long-term cumulative effect on student learning, say education experts. Chalkbeat. Several Florida universities have decided to offer only online classes during the summer session. Florida Politics. What are countries around the world doing to continue educating students during the coronavirus pandemic? UNESCO. School administrators are getting advice from the Future of Privacy Forum and American Association of School Administrators on how to provide information to school communities without violating student privacy. Education Dive. Seminole County schools are donating protective goggles to nearby hospitals. WKMG. Districts and other organizations continue to feed low-income students while schools are closed. Florida Department of Agriculture. Florida Department of Education. Ocala Star-Banner. Daytona Beach News Journal. WUFT. ECB Publishing. WKMG. WGCU. Orlando Sentinel. Questions and answers about the coronavirus, guidance for school districts and a glossary. Florida Department of Health. Florida Department of Education. The CDC’s latest guidance for K-12 schools. Education Dive.
Advance Placement lessons: Free review lessons for Advance Placement exams will be available online for Florida students, starting today, according to the College Board. The classes are optional, will be taught by AP teachers across the country, and are available on demand. The College Board is working on a plan to make AP testing available for students from home. Details are expected to be announced April 3. WCTV. WFTS. Florida Politics. WPTV. WTSP. Exams scheduled this spring or summer for the International Baccalaureate and Cambridge Assessment International Education programs have been canceled. Gradebook. Florida Politics.
School board meetings: Manatee County School Board members met Tuesday in an empty room that was closed to the public. Three members phoned in, and the other two sat in seats separated by a row of chairs. Residents could email comments, and the meeting was shown on the district’s TV channel. But several members questioned whether they should be meeting at all. “I’m pretty convinced this meeting shouldn’t even be taking place,” said board member Scott Hopes. District officials said the board “will hold emergency meetings only. The agenda will be limited to matters that must be decided now and cannot wait.” But after approving a declaration of emergency, the board was then asked to approve purchases and contracts for school construction projects. Bradenton Herald. A plan to hold a virtual Lee County School Board meeting on Tuesday was scuttled by technical problems. Board members were hearing feedback and echoes instead of Superintendent Greg Adkins, so the consideration of what limitations to place on a superintendent’s authority to conduct business without board approval in times of emergencies will be discussed April 7. WFTX.
Overdose treatment drug: The sponsor of a bill that would have allowed schools to use a drug to treat students who overdose on opioids said he will introduce another version of the bill in next year’s legislative session after it failed this year. S.B. 120, which was introduced by State Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-Miami, would have given schools the authority to buy and use naloxone, which is used by paramedics to revise overdose victims. At least six states have laws allowing school employees to stock and administer the drug. WUFT.
Employee honored: James Graves, a computer technician at Highland Elementary School, has been named the Osceola County School District’s school-related employee of the year. Osceola News-Gazette.
Opinions on schools: Florida needs to impose stay-at-home orders now, before it’s too late. Dr. Mona Mangat, Tampa Bay Times.