COVID school year in review, some teachers won’t get bonuses, face mask policies debated and more

A COVID year in review: Most educators are breathing a sigh of relief as the school year ends. They and students faced coronavirus infections, quarantines, academic backsliding, remote learning, and the deaths of colleagues, classmates and family members. “It’s probably a year that they will never forget — probably don’t want to ever have to repeat,” said Andrea Messina, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association. “It was taxing physically and emotionally — on the families, on the students and on the teachers.” Florida Phoenix. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WKMG. Florida Keys Weekly.

About those bonuses: About 174,000 Florida teachers and principals will get $1,000 bonuses this summer, thanks to federal coronavirus aid, but many other educators will not. Non-classroom teachers are not eligible, and they’re not happy about it. Eric Graff is one of those. As a media specialist at Morningside Elementary School in Port St. Lucie, he still teaches classes. “I have to do the exact same thing teachers do as far as recertification goes,” he said. “Come spend some time down here and you tell me if you are just going to give to the classroom teachers, which absolutely deserve this. But the people that are left out, it does hurt feelings.” WPTV.

Around the state: Palm Beach health officials warn that quarantines will continue if masks aren’t required in schools next fall, Volusia and Flagler schools aren’t requiring masks for graduation ceremonies, the Manatee school board is expected to lift its mask mandate at a meeting today, nine Alachua school administrators are told they won’t return to their jobs in August, and the Escambia high school yearbook editor who put a horse sticker over the face of the homecoming queen accused of rigging the vote has been barred from attending graduation ceremonies. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: Two off-duty school district police officers were captured on a video in a confrontation with two police officers that ended with one of the school officers handcuffed. On April 24, Doral police were called to a restaurant about a disturbance. They were told the two officers, Sgt. Dubraska Guevara and Officer Jennifer Grenier, were “acting really weird, like really, really drunk,” and that the restaurant wanted them gone. The officers found Guevara and Grenier in the bathroom and were escorting them out of the building when Guevara verbally confronted one of the officers, leading him to put her in handcuffs. No arrests were made. A Doral police spokesman said officers used their discretion. Schools Police Chief Edwin Lopez said the department is investigating. WPLG. WSVN.

Broward: The school district is setting up charging stations in preparation to buy 60 electric school buses. They’ll replace older diesel buses and will make up 4 percent of the district’s fleet. WLRN.

Palm Beach: School district officials met with county health officials Thursday as a first step in deciding what coronavirus safety protocols should be considered for schools next August. Dr. Alina Alonso, the county health director, expressed concerns over making face masks optional, and warned that quarantines will persist without masks. “I think you’re going to have staff and more kids out of school for a period of time more often than you did even though we have less virus now and less cases,” she said. Alonso also said if the positivity rate spikes, she’d recommend requiring face masks. WPBF. WPEC. WPTV.

Brevard: Meticulously decorated mortarboards were a theme of the day at Brevard high school graduations. Here’s a selection of 25 of the more interesting one. Florida Today. Seven-day meal kits will be distributed at 11 county schools from June 9 to July 28 on Wednesdays only, district officials announced this week. Space Coast Daily.

Volusia, Flagler: Masks will not be required at graduation rehearsals or ceremonies, school officials in Volusia and Flagler announced Thursday. Volusia graduations are June 3-6 at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, and students will be able to purchase up to eight tickets for guests. Flagler’s are June 2, also at the Ocean Center. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Orlando Sentinel. WOFL. Mainland High School in Volusia County held a special graduation ceremony for senior Gabe Bridges so that his father Sammi, who is in hospice care, could see it in person. WOFL.

Osceola: A Harmony Middle School dean has been arrested and accused of molesting a 13-year-old. Bradley Scott Linville, 51, is the third district employee arrested and charged with a sex-related crime in the past two weeks. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. WOFL.

Manatee: School board members are expected to vote today to make face masks optional for graduations, summer school and the next school year. “We will probably be the first county that has masks in the state of Florida to drop our mandate,” said board member Charlie Kennedy. The Florida Department of Education couldn’t confirm that, and its data shows that 28 school districts, mostly in rural areas, have already had policies that either recommend face-coverings or allow them to be optional. WUSF.

Marion: The county zoning board has approved Victory Academy Ocala’s application to build a school in the southwest part of the county, despite the opposition of residents in the area who are worried about additional traffic. County commissioners will make the final decision. The private school has rented space for the past nine academic years. It has about 100 students from pre-K through 8th grade. Ocala Star-Banner.

Escambia: The Tate High School yearbook editor who put horse stickers over the face of the girl accused of rigging the homecoming queen vote so she could win has been barred from the school’s graduation. Samantha Guerrier, 18, said she had been instructed by school administrators to remove any photos of Emily Grover from the yearbook. She covered Grover with the school mascot, a horse. Pensacola News Journal.

Alachua: Nine district administrators have been told they won’t be returning to their jobs for the 2021-2022 school year. Two principals are among them: William McElroy, who is the principal and director of career/technical education at Professional Academies Magnet at Loften High School; and Deanna Feagin, principal of Glen Springs Elementary. Many of the nine will be encouraged to apply for one of the new positions being created under Superintendent Carlee Simon’s reorganization plan. Gainesville Sun.

Santa Rosa: School officials have plans to add an aviation maintenance program at Locklin Technical College. “The main goal of the project is workforce development. Everybody wants to see job creation. We want to see our students leaving the district, not just with high school diplomas but also some sort of credential that would take them to … post-secondary education or straight into the workforce,” said Charlin Knight, the district’s director of workforce education. Pensacola News Journal.

Colleges and universities: Incoming Florida State University president Richard McCullough talks about his vision for the school, how he plans to attract faculty, students and research money, and about balancing academics and athletics. WCTV. A University of Miami vice dean has resigned in protest over the firing of the law school dean Anthony Varona. Miami Herald. Colorado becomes the first state to ban legacy admissions to public colleges, and will no longer require SAT or ACT scores from applying students. NPR.

Summer school ‘camps’: Private school leaders around Florida said they plan to make summer schools feel more like summer camps to students, with field trips, sports, performing arts as ways to begin recovering lost learning. “The idea is to help students avoid the summer back slide that inevitably happens annually, but we know that will be greater this year with all of the adaptations that needed to be made by schools and the virtual learning that students experienced this school year,” said Rebekah Lugo-Melise, senior manager of arts equity and access for Central Florida Community Arts. redefinED.

Around the nation: The U.S. Department of Education announced this week that states may not limit how a school district uses money it gets from the federal coronavirus relief bill. DOE also released a 61-page document with frequently asked questions. K-12 Dive. Education Week.

Opinions on schools: Florida now has 26 Community Partnership Schools — each with a university, nonprofit and health provider connection — driving outcomes that improve student success in the classroom and beyond. Andry Sweet and Pamela Carroll, Orlando Sentinel.