Some schools still closed for access issues, quarantine mixup, equity council formed and more

Storm complications: Tropical Storm Eta has moved west of the state and is far enough offshore that no school districts are closed today, but 17 schools in Miami-Dade County will stay shuttered because of “flooding and access challenges” caused by the storm Monday. The students in those schools will switch to remote learning for at least a day. The latest projected path takes the storm somewhere near the Florida Panhandle this weekend, but there still is a wide area where it might make landfall. Miami Herald. Sun Sentinel. WTVJ. WPLG. WSVN. WFOR. In Lee County, students will attend school on Veterans Day to make up for Monday’s cancellation of classes. WZVN. The state Board of Education, which was to meet today in Miami, rescheduled to Nov. 18 at Tallahassee Community College because of Eta. News Service of Florida.

Around the state: A miscommunication resulted in 26 students who were supposed to be in quarantine showing up at their Orange County school on Monday, the Pasco County School District has appointed an assistant superintendent to lead a council that will push for equity for all students, an independent investigation has concluded that the Volusia County School District did not misspend or mismanage the purchase and installation of a new computer system, Manatee’s school board will review its face mask policy today, a judge has upheld the firing of a Lake County teacher who posted TikTok videos with sexually explicit comments, and the Alachua school board will reconsider its approval of a new rubberized track and seating area at a Gainesville high school. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts and private schools, and colleges and universities:

Hillsborough: A social studies teacher at Tampa’s Steinbrenner High School wants to add the history of abandoned and forgotten cemeteries for black people to her curriculum. Shannon Peck-Bartle has already gotten approval to incorporate the history of Tarpon Springs’ Rose Cemetery to the curriculum at all county schools, and now she wants to expand that history to recently uncovered burial grounds in other communities in the Tampa Bay area. “We can share the voices of those buried in the cemeteries to teach the community about their lives,” Peck-Bartle said. “The goal is to network all of these cemeteries to pull together resources into a comprehensive education program that can engage students.” Tampa Bay Times.

Orange: Twenty-six students who were supposed to be in quarantine Monday instead showed up at Bridgewater Middle School in Winter Garden because of a miscommunication. Dr. Raul Pino, the county health director, said the school’s principal was mistakenly not included in an email with the list of students who were supposed to be isolated. He apologized to parents who had to make last-minute changes in their plans. WKMG. WFTV. WMFE.

Duval, northeast Florida: The Duval County School District has launched its revised coronavirus dashboard. It includes more information about cases, an aggregate count by the day, week or month, and graphics of how cases are distributed among schools. “We wanted to add a little color to it and some more functionality to it,” said Superintendent Diana Greene. WJXT. WJAX. The Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau and Columbia school districts are asking parents of their students to decide soon on what learning options they want for the second semester. Districts need to know how many students are returning to classrooms and how many want to continue remote learning so they can adjust staffing. WJXT.

Pasco: Assistant superintendent Kim Moore has been appointed to lead an Equity Advisory Council to develop fair and consistent practices within the district, clear and measurable goals for reaching desired outcomes without bias, and an approach to develop diversity in district leadership and a capacity for change. Moore in the highest-ranking black administrator in the district. She said she wants a diverse group of people that include members beyond “the people we normally talk to.” Superintendent Kurt Browning said the district has to improve educational opportunities for children from low-income and underserved neighborhoods. Tampa Bay Times.

Lee: School officials have received about 2,000 rapid results coronavirus test kits, and are working with the health department on a plan to administer them. Consideration for the testing process will go to the school board Nov. 16 for a vote. The tests show a result within 15 minutes, and can be used to send a student back to class or home to quarantine for 14 days. The district has reported at least 155 confirmed cases. Fort Myers News-Press.

Volusia: An independent investigation of the district’s purchase and installation of a new computer system for the finance and human resources departments has found no proof that the school board misspent or mismanaged millions of dollars over the several years it took to implement the system. The Florida Department of Education ordered the investigation after a complaint. The board hired GrayRobinson, a law firm in Gainesville, which said Tuesday that the allegations were unfounded. The project, which was approved in July 2017, was supposed to cost $5.2 million and be finished by January 2019. The cost has risen to $7.4 million and the completion date has been pushed back to next January, at the earliest. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Manatee: About 74 percent of school employees want the district’s face mask mandate to continue and 59 percent of parents agree, according to a district survey. Today, the school board is expected to decide whether to continue requiring students and staff to wear masks. The board first approved the policy Aug. 11 in a 4-1 vote, but it expires soon. Bradenton Herald. Three cases of the coronavirus were reported at Southeast High School on Monday, and three more were confirmed at two other schools. Sixty-five students and employees have been quarantined. Bradenton Herald.

Lake: An administrative law judge has upheld the firing of a teacher who make TikTok videos with sexually explicit comments. Judge Robert Telfer III said the firing of Todd Erdman, who taught at Umatilla Middle School, was justified because he violated a series of district rules in posting the “lewd and offensive material.” Erdman appealed Superintendent Diane Kornegay’s decision to fire him to the state Division of Administrative Hearings, arguing that he had made his TikTok private but that someone had stolen his phone and posted the videos. News Service of Florida. Forty coronavirus cases were reported by the school district last week, resulting in orders to quarantine for 380 students and 60 employees. The number of cases is more than in previous weeks, but no school reported any significant spike. Daily Commercial.

Alachua: Next week, school board members will reconsider an earlier decision to approve spending $1.4 million to rubberize the track at Buchholz High School and improve the seating. Superintendent Karen Clarke asked for the reconsideration because of a change in board members. Eileen Roy, who supported the project, is retiring and will be replaced by Diyonne McGraw, who has not made her position on the proposal public. Two of the five board members, Tina Certain and Leanetta McNealy, are critical of any improvements beyond the rubberization. The issue will be discussed at the Nov. 17 meeting. Gainesville Sun.

Citrus: The school district will provide seven days of meals for children under the age of 18 over Thanksgiving week. Families must register by Nov. 16 to be eligible. Distribution will be at seven schools on Nov. 20. Citrus County Chronicle.

Monroe: School officials said more than 1,100 county students are food-insecure, so the district has partnered with several community business and organizations to provide backpacks filled with food for those students every weekend and over Thanksgiving. Key West Citizen.

Supports for ESAs: Support for education savings accounts remained steady this year, according to a recent poll by EdChoice, an Indianapolis nonprofit that advocates school choice for all children. Seventy-three percent of parents either strongly or somewhat support ESAs while about 14 percent strongly or somewhat oppose them. The poll also found that 76 percent of teachers approve ESAs after they were given a description of how the accounts work. redefinED.

Opinions on schools: Evidence regarding the academic harm of the coronavirus-induced shutdowns continues to trickle in, and the news is bad. What we need are creative solutions. For these, we need to look to the state and local leaders. Washington, D.C., to put things mildly, is not a font of productive policy innovation and has a terrible tendency to do more harm than good. Matthew Ladner, redefinED. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will leave a mixed legacy. She’s succeeded in rewriting the rules governing civil rights and sexual misconduct investigations, but wasn’t able to substantially shrink the education budget or convince huge numbers of students to opt out of public schools with new private school voucher programs. And she has nudged education further into red camps and blue camps. Kalyn Belsha and Matt Barnum, Chalkbeat.