With just a few weeks until schools reopen, data from the Florida Department of Health shows a concerning trend involving children and COVID-19.
Reports show there has been a 34% increase in new cases among children in the last eight days and a 23% increase in child COVID-19 hospitalizations in Florida over the same span.
The revelation has added even more fuel to a school reopening debate that has already been burning for weeks.
Add to that an in-depth story published Saturday by The Washington Post suggests that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has relied less on scientific evidence and more on political pressure when making decisions like reopening businesses and schools. The Post said it interviewed more than 60 current and former state and administration officials, health administrators, epidemiologists, political operatives and hospital executives for the story.
Vice President Mike Pence, who was in Florida on Monday to meet with DeSantis at the Univesity of Miami Medical School, has kept up the Trump administration’s push for reopening schools and universities, insisting that it can be done safely even amid public worries about the health risks posed by the coronavirus.
Students, parents and teachers who disagree with Pence and DeSantis protested Monday near downtown Jacksonville asking for Duval County to move all instruction online this fall.
Coming up on Thursday, Greene and other Duval County education leaders will join News4Jax for a virtual forum to talk about the reopening plan and answer questions.
The Facing The Fall Virtual Town Hall is scheduled for 11 a.m. and will be hosted by anchor Bruce Hamilton and education reporter Joe McLean.
Our education team will field questions from the public and bring them to those in charge of making decisions. You can begin to leave your questions at the link at the bottom of this newsletter.
Now, let’s check out the latest education developments:
Coronavirus cases among kids in Duval County are up 62% in the last two weeks.
Although Duval County’s school reopening plan was approved by the school board last week, it still needs to be approved by the state because it goes against the state’s order that schools reopen five days a week in August. If the state shoots down the plan, the district could lose millions.
The Duval school district said last week it still needs a lot more teachers to lead its school-based virtual school, which had more than 23,000 students signed up as of Monday morning. But some teachers said there’s a reason why more teachers are signing up.
While classrooms will be cleaned, sanitized and disinfected daily to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the reopening plan, which the Nassau County School Board approved Thursday, says that 6 feet of distance between students will not be possible in most classrooms. That’s worrying some teachers with bigger class sizes.
DCPS has released a list of five things parents and guardians should do before school begins on the planned date of Aug. 20.
Pence told a small audience at Marian University in Indianapolis that having children back in classrooms was a necessary step to seeing more parents returning to jobs.
Virus testing is just one of many safety measures colleges are planning as they look to reopen. Many also plan to reduce class sizes, limit dorm capacity, require masks and ban large gatherings.
A major organization for higher education employees is calling for all Florida institutions to transition to remote learning for at least the fall 2020 semester.
Georgia’s 26 public universities could lose nearly $500 million in room, board and student fees if no students return to campus this fall.
What are your back-to-school questions?
What are your burning questions as students prepare to return to school in August? Follow this link to submit a question and the News4Jax Education Team will work to get the answer.
Meet the Facing the Fall team
The News4Jax education team is led by reporter Joe McLean (firstname.lastname@example.org) who has nearly 10 years of experience as an investigative journalist covering everything from education to politics in Missouri.
Joining him is digital reporter Travis Gibson (email@example.com), a Jacksonville native and former high school sports reporter who has written about race issues and allegations of abuse on university and high school campuses across the country.
The goal is to have our reporters bring your questions and concerns to education leaders and hold them accountable. You’ll see their work online and on TV starting this week and throughout the school year.
Facing the Fall is our newsletter covering Jacksonville’s return to school. Interested? You’re already signed up. Our team of reporters will send updates to keep you informed. Not interested? Unsubscribe here.