$859 million economic impact to closing of schools, reopening state, top teacher’s job change and more

School closing economic impact: The decision to close the state’s preK-12 schools because of the coronavirus pandemic has had an estimated $859 million economic impact, according to a report released Monday by the Florida Council of 100. A 12-week closure would increase the impact to $1.7 billion, the report by the business group said. The report also made several recommendations: The state should provide teachers more training over the summer so they can be effective teaching online classes or using Florida Virtual School and its programs in the next school year if necessary, identify students at risk for significant learning loss so they can be helped with special instruction and programs, and give more support to parents so they can help their children with online classes. The council also conducted a survey that showed 64 percent of working Florida parents of students think school closings have somewhat or greatly hurt their ability to perform their jobs. News Service of Florida. Capital Soup.

Reopening Florida, schools: Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Monday that he’s not ready to set a timeline to reopen Florida’s economy, but said it will begin soon with “baby steps” in phase 1 and possibly in areas of the state that are “on the other side” of the outbreak. “Folks should see a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said during an appearance in Tampa. “It’s not going to be something that a switch is going to be flipped. This is going to be methodical and data-driven.” The Re-Open Florida Task Force is scheduled to present its recommendations to the governor this week. DeSantis’ stay-at-home order ends Thursday. Associated Press. News Service of Florida. Tampa Bay Times. WTVT. Orlando Sentinel. Florida Politics. Governors in some states should consider reopening schools, President Trump suggested during a conference call with them on Monday. “Some of you might start thinking about school openings because a lot of people are wanting to have the school openings,” Trump said. “The young children have done very well in this disaster that we’ve all gone through, so a lot of people are thinking about the school openings.” Associated Press. New York Times.

Educational changes: U.S. school leaders are under pressure to get schools reopened in the fall, and are considering ideas such as one-way hallways, masks for students and teachers, shift learning by hours or days of the week, and requiring students to have their temperatures taken before they’re allowed in buildings and to wash their hands when they enter or leave a classroom. While the daily patterns could be different, some educators believe they may be worth it to re-establish the routines provided by schools. “Our students need some kind of normalcy,” said Michael Hinojosa, superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District. “Right now, their whole world has been disrupted with things that they’ve never dealt with before, and they need to be around other people.” Washington Post. CNN.

Top teacher to work for state: Florida’s 2020 teacher of the year will take a job as executive director of the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice. Dre Graham, the band director at King High School in Tampa, has spent the past year touring the state as an education ambassador. “I have an opportunity to go up and help to be an influence at the Department of Education,” said Graham, who starts his new job in June. He plans to keep connected to the classroom by teaching music in some capacity at Leon High in Tallahassee. Gradebook.

Money is available, if: U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Monday that $180 million in extra relief money could go to states hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic if they expand virtual education or launch voucher-like grants. “The current disruption to the normal model is reaffirming something I have said for years: we must rethink education to better match the realities of the 21st century,” DeVos said in a statement. “This is the time for local education leaders to unleash their creativity and ingenuity.” Chalkbeat.

Graduation plans: Marion County school officials are making plans to have traditional, though scaled back, graduation ceremonies for their eight high schools sometime between late May and July. Morning ceremonies are under consideration, and students will be seated 6 feet apart. Each student would receive just two tickets for family members, who would also be seated 6 feet apart. There would be no student processional. Board members are expected to discuss the proposals Thursday. Ocala Star-Banner. Some specialized schools in Citrus County are planning alternative graduation ceremonies. Citrus County Chronicle.

Class grading adjusted: The coronavirus pandemic has prompted a change in the way Bay County students will earn grades for the final quarter of the school year. “Whatever that student had for the third quarter grade, their fourth quarter grade can be no lower than what their third quarter grade was,’ said Superintendent Bill Husfelt. “If they had a 100, they can’t get any lower than that. If they have a 75 they can’t get any lower, but … they can get a higher grade.” Panama City News Herald.

Online learning: Students aren’t the only ones learning through online instruction. Several Florida teachers describe their initial concerns about teaching remotely. But patience, flexibility and a willingness to adapt have seen them through. Tampa Bay Times. WUFT. About 97 percent of Manatee County students logged into the district’s online learning program between March 30 and April 19, according to school records. Four schools had 100 percent of their students log in, and 23 others had 99 percent. Bradenton Herald. Charlotte County charter and prep schools are reporting a variety of methods of remote teaching. Charlotte Sun.

More on the coronavirus: A Bay County teacher is helping one North Bay Haven Elementary School student with his lessons from the end of his Panama City driveway. WMBB. The Collier County School District is holding a virtual spirit week for students and staff through Friday. WBBH. The 250 members of the band at J.W. Mitchell High School in Pasco County is hosting a virtual concert series on Facebook through May 9. Tampa Bay Times. Leon County students with visual impairments post a video thanking essential workers. WTXL. A Collier County restaurant is offering teachers a free pizza dinner between now and Aug. 30. Naples Daily News. Two Hillsborough County teachers raise $6,000 to buy food for underprivileged students. WTSP. Some U.S. students are holding virtual proms with teleconferencing programs. Associated Press. School districts, organizations and individuals continue to feed low-income students while schools are closed. Florida Department of AgricultureFlorida Department of Education. WSVN. WFOR. WPEC. Tampa Bay Times. Palm Beach Post. WPLG. WTVJ.

Teacher honored: Karen Flores, a history teacher at Eustis Middle School in Lake County, has been named the Sons of the American Revolution’s Florida teacher of the year for her lessons about the American Revolution. Daily Commercial.

School communities grieving: Counselors are being made available for home visits for students who are grieving the recent losses of classmates in car crashes. Jacob Llana, 18, and Aurelia St. Jean, 16, both students at Creekside High School in St. Johns County, died Saturday when their car hit a tree in Suwannee County. In Jackson County, Marianna High School students are mourning for 9th-grader Zachary Smith, who died Sunday when the car he was riding in hit a tree in Marianna. WJXT. Florida Times-Union. WJHG.

Opinions on schools: The approval of a proposal to offer flexible learning scholarships that combine the features of education savings accounts and the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program is a victory for Utah students and their families. Jonathan Butcher, redefinED. Teacher pensions took a hit during the recession a decade ago, and the costs were passed on to future employees. It’s probably going to happen again. Chad Aldeman, The 74. A Hillsborough County middle school reading teacher says virtual learning is an opportunity for kids, parents, teachers and administrators to coalesce around the online odyssey. Glenn Geigler, Tampa Bay Times. Why a high-quality curriculum should matter to private schools. Ashley Berner, redefinED.

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BY NextSteps staff