Schools getting rapid coronavirus tests, LGBTQ awareness training, reopenings, contracts and more

Rapid coronavirus tests: About 60,000 rapid coronavirus tests will be delivered to school districts this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday. The BiNAX Now test uses a nasal swab and produces a result within 15 minutes. “This will be for any student or teacher that develops symptoms and needs to be tested,” DeSantis said. “If a student is either sent to school that’s sick or becomes sick in school, you take the student out, isolate them. But then if you can get a 15-minute test and you get the negative, then you don’t have to worry about isolating some of these other students. We want to keep as many students in the classroom as we can.” In addition to the 60,000 for schools, 180,000 will be available for senior communities, 100,000 for long-term care facilities and the rest for other testing sites. The tests are the first shipment of about 6.4 million from the federal government. WPTV. WMFE. Palm Beach Post. WTLV. WTVT.

LGBTQ awareness: The state’s leading LGBTQ rights organization and the largest K-12 scholarship organization are collaborating to offer awareness training to private schools that have scholarship students. Equality Florida would provide four years of ongoing LGBTQ awareness training for private school administrators and teachers that wish to participate. Step Up For Students, which helps administer several scholarship programs and hosts this blog, has raised $1 million for the initiative. “Any time we can step inside any school to offer help to students, we want to be there,” said Equality Florida chief executive officer Nadine Smith. “The bottom line is that every student should feel safe, no matter whether the school is public or private.” redefinED. Politico Florida. Florida Politics.

Around the state: Miami-Dade teachers and administrators are fighting about working conditions, the Broward school board wants psychiatric records of parents whose children were killed in the Parkland school shootings released as part of a lawsuit, tentative contract agreements are reached between teachers and the Pinellas and Lake school districts, and Palm Beach County teachers are told their homemade desk shields have to be removed. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts and private schools:

Miami-Dade: Schools have been reopened for two days and the teachers union and district officials are already at odds. The primary complaint from teachers is that too many are being required to teach both online and in-person students simultaneously. They contend that they agreed to it only in rare circumstances, but that the rule is being broadly violated. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said some teachers want to teach both so they don’t split up their classes. “I understand there may be a number of cases where our rule may be broken,” he said. “But that is an exception, and it’s unacceptable to me.” WLRN.

Broward: The Broward County School Board is demanding that psychiatric records of parents whose children died in the 2018 Parkland school shooting be turned over to prove they suffered mental anguish. The motion came in the lawsuit the parents filed against the board for its failure to recognize the danger posed by the accused shooter and stop him. Lori Alhadeff, who was elected to the school board after her daughter Alyssa died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, called the demand “harassing, burdensome” and an invasion of privacy. Sun Sentinel. WPEC. When Broward schools begin a phased-in reopening Friday, desks will have plexiglass barriers and be spaced out to meet social distancing guidelines, students will wear masks, at least one nurse will be in every school and isolation rooms will be available for students with coronavirus symptoms. WTVJ. WPLG. WSVN. WFOR. A Dania Elementary School teacher has been suspended for three days after being accused of mistreating a student with autism. A cell phone video showed teacher Halyna Shvank jerking the 7-year-old boy’s head back and pushing him into a chair. The parents said the punishment is not enough, and are threatening to file a lawsuit. WSVN. A 15-year-old 10th-grader at American Heritage School in Plantation has been expelled and banned from the campus after he was arrested and accused of making threats against the school. Sun Sentinel.

Hillsborough: Some district students who began the year with online learning but now want to go back into classrooms may be placed on a waiting list. Some schools judged to be at capacity because of the restrictions on social distancing will make students wait for a space to open up, while other schools have room to accommodate anyone who wants to switch. Bay News 9. District officials said they will begin allowing more people to attend high school sporting events. Up to 1,500 spectators will be allowed into football games, and 400 to volleyball matches. WFLA.

Palm Beach: Homemade desk shields some teachers have fashioned in their classrooms could violate fire codes and impede air circulation and must be removed immediately, district officials said this week. “The only barriers approved are those provided by the school district,” read the bulletin sent to schools. The district spent $857,000 buying plexiglass shields for desks, but some teachers have complained that they’re too small and have built their own out of shower curtains and vinyl barriers held up by PVC pipes. Union president Justin Katz said the district had not given teachers alternatives, flexibility or notice before issuing the order. Palm Beach Post. A case of the coronavirus was confirmed Tuesday at Sebastian River High School, sending 26 students and an employee into quarantine. WPEC.

Pinellas: Teachers and district officials have reached a tentative contract agreement that raises the minimum salary to $47,500, provides raises of 3.45 percent to all other teachers, and streamlines the evaluation process. Only one formal observation will be done, teachers will be informed when they’re being observed, the number of benchmarks a teacher must meet to get a positive evaluation has been reduced, and teachers who work with both in-person and online students simultaneously can choose which type of lesson gets reviewed. Teachers will now vote on the proposal, and the school board is expected to consider it Oct. 27. Tampa Bay Times. St. Petersburg Collegiate Charter High School has closed after a student tested positive for the coronavirus. The school offers 10th- through 12th-graders the chance to earn a high school diploma and associate’s degree from St. Petersburg College. Florida Politics.

Lee, Collier: While the Collier County School District will end its Classroom Connect, virtual learning option for students in the spring semester, Lee school officials said they will continue to offer Lee Home Connect as a virtual option for students who don’t want to be in classrooms. About 35,000 students are enrolled in Home Connect while more than 43,500 are learning in classrooms. Fort Myers News-Press. About 40 people attended Tuesday’s school board meeting to speak for and against a request for the board to proclaim October as LGBTQ History Month. But the item had been pulled from the board agenda, and no vote was taken. WFTX. WBBH.

Pasco: District officials are relaxing the requirement to wear a face mask at outdoor school sporting events. Attendees won’t have to wear masks when seated at the event, but will when entering or leaving a facility, walking to their seats and going for concessions or to a bathroom. The change takes effect immediately. Tampa Bay Times.

Osceola: A group of students and alumni known as the Osceola Coalition for Change wants the school district to revise its policies on dealing with sexual assault. A series of social media posts over the summer alleged some sexual misconduct in the district. School board members said they are reviewing the allegations and the request. WKMG. WESH.

Brevard: The Odyssey Charter School in Palm Bay has opened its 22,000-square-foot Constance Ortiz Performing Arts and Wellness Center. School officials said they are counting on the new athletic facilities to improve sports programs and student retention. Florida Today. The Melbourne High School football team has been placed in quarantine after one of its players tested positive. WOFL. WFTV. Laura Pinfield, who has taught music for 32 years, has been named the secondary music educator of the year by the Florida Music Education Association. Space Coast Daily.

Seminole: A 16-year-old student who refused to wear a face mask at Winter Springs High School was arrested last month. His attorney called the incident a case of “government abuse” and said the boy has panic attacks, while deputies said the boy was on probation and required to maintain good behavior in school, and never mentioned the medical condition when he was arrested. Orlando Sentinel.

Volusia, Flagler: Flagler school officials are reporting 13 new coronavirus cases since late last week, and Volusia has reported six. That brings the number of positive coronavirus cases to 131 between the districts, with 78 in Volusia and 53 in Flagler. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Manatee: More than 50 students and employees at Manatee High School and Nolan Middle School have been quarantined after being exposed to three students who tested positive for the coronavirus. There have been 81 confirmed cases and 1,055 placed into quarantine since schools reopened Aug. 17. Bradenton Herald.

Lake: School board members have approved a tentative contract agreement between the district and the teachers union that boosts starting salaries from $40,400 to $44,750 and gives teachers making more than $44,750 now raises of 1 or 2 percent. The union membership will vote on the deal today. Daily Commercial.

Sarasota: Representatives from the Black Lives Matter movement and the Concerned Parents of Sarasota County clashed at Tuesday’s school board meeting over the teaching of racial issues in the classrooms. Superintendent Brennan Asplen said he would ask community leaders to join a committee to discuss how the district can address the concerns of both groups. The parents’ group also lobbied against the proposed extension of the policy requiring students to wear face masks in schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on that Oct. 20. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WFLA. WTVT. WWSB. Twenty-three county high school seniors have been named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Marion: About 190 students have been placed in quarantine at two schools after positive coronavirus tests were reported. West Port High School sent 110 students into quarantine after one student tested positive, while all 1st- and 5th-grade classrooms at Reddick-Collier Elementary School were switched to online learning after coronavirus exposures. Ocala Star-Banner. Businesswoman Allison B. Campbell and Lori Conrad, a 25-year veteran Dr. N.H. Jones Elementary School teacher, are competing in the Nov. 3 runoff for the District 1 school board seat. Nancy Stacy has held the position for eight years but isn’t running for re-election. Campbell said the board has too many educators on the board and needs some diversity. Conrad said her experience in the classroom will help guide the district through the coronavirus pandemic. Ocala Star-Banner.

Leon: More than 2,100 students said they plan to switch from remote learning to in-person classes when the new grading period begins in November, while 29 said they will switch to remote learning. The deadline to decide is Friday. WCTV.

Okaloosa, Santa Rosa: Officials from both districts said they have no plans to make changes to school operations because of the approaching Hurricane Delta. The storm has moved to the west, taking western Florida out of the cone of probability as of this morning. WEAR.

Alachua: A Gainesville High School custodian has been arrested and accused of sexual battery against a girl between the age of 12 and 18. Police said Bernard Ellerbe, 54, admitted to the assault on the relative, who did not attend the school. Gainesville Sun.

Martin: Ten students from three schools have been advised to quarantine for two weeks after being exposed to someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus or is showing symptoms after being in close contact with someone who tested positive. WPEC.

Monroe: Four county high school seniors have been named as National Merit Scholarships semifinalists. Key West Citizen.

Achievement gap: Researchers have suggested in a new study that black and Hispanic students performed worse on standardized tests on hotter days, and said it’s an indication of the disproportionate toll climate change is taking on minorities. The study, which was published this week in the journal Nature Human Behavior, was conducted over 58 countries. New York Times.