Students across 10 Northeast Florida counties are all heading back to school on Thursday, along with Ware County in Southeast Georgia.
With the start of the school year, quite a few new policy changes are taking effect in Florida.
A number of the changes were met with criticism. That includes restrictions in instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity that have “effectively banned” teaching AP psychology, according to The College Board, and how Black history is taught in schools.
The new curriculum requires instruction for middle school age students to include that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” The standards have drawn sharp criticism from opponents who say that under these standards, history is being whitewashed. Proponents, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, disagree.
In the last few weeks, the Florida Board of Education approved the standards for AP psychology, but amid the ongoing controversy, some districts, including Duval and Clay, have said they will not offer AP psychology for the upcoming school year.
Across Florida, another policy change now requires transgender people to use bathrooms that align with their sex assigned at birth. The law applies to schools and public buildings.
Another new law being implemented this year will have school districts share portions of local property-tax revenues with charter schools.
Districts will also be able to use cameras to take pictures of drivers who illegally pass school buses. St. Johns County said it’s not pursuing this extra safeguard. A Clay County spokesperson released a statement that said the district is looking at logistics, but no decisions have been made on adding cameras to buses.
TikTok will also be essentially banned in schools because it’s no longer allowed to be used on district-owned devices and in locations where the district is providing internet access.
Some big changes are also coming for how school districts operate. School board members now have an eight-year term limit -- down from 12 years. They’ll also have to live in the district they represent by the date they take office.