‘We are in this together’: DCPS superintendent lays out plan for navigating teacher shortage as school year looms
In a message to district staff Wednesday, Duval County Public Schools Dr. Superintendent Diana Greene announced that class sizes in grades K-8 will increase by one or two students across the district.
Duval County teachers predict ‘very, very bad situation’ for school staffing
Voters in Duval County will decide on August 23, whether the district will raise the county’s property taxes by one millage rate as a means of funding teacher pay increases and improvement of Duval County Public Schools’ arts and athletic programs.
Lee High teacher reassigned to paid, non-teaching post amid controversy over BLM flag, her organization says
Students at the school told News4Jax they had planned to stage a “peaceful assembly” Wednesday morning in response to a school administrator’s removal of a the flag. A Lee High School senior said the school’s staff prevented the demonstration from happening. In response to Lee High School admin ordering a teacher to take down their BLM flag, students are creating their own “replacements” and hanging them around campus. This screenshot shows a Nov. 7, 2020 Facebook post by Amy Donofrio, a teacher at Robert E. Lee High School. The screenshot was taken from a Feb. 12, 2021 Instagram post from Lee High School senior class president Deyona Burton as she walks along side principal Timothy Feagins.
Principal apologizes after segregated meetings at Douglas Anderson canceled amid backlash
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A plan to hold two segregated school cultural meetings has been canceled at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, the Duval County School District told News4Jax. AdParents and former students of Douglas Anderson said they were outraged after hearing about plans for the meeting. “I think that this sadly has taken away the possibility of trusting administration to create that safe space for students,” said Douglas Anderson alumna Jade Collins. AdNews4Jax received an email reportedly sent to school leaders two weeks ago by a group of students. For perspective, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts has more than 1,100 students.
Fort Caroline Middle moving online due to ‘multiple cases of COVID-19′
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Citing “multiple cases of COVID-19,″ Fort Caroline Middle School is transitioning entirely to online learning through Duval HomeRoom beginning Thursday, according to a news release from the Duval County School District. A message sent to families of students from Principal Chelvert Wellington states that the school will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. AdAt 10 a.m., there will be laptop and Wi-Fi hotspot distribution at the north end of the parking lot. The principal sent families a bell schedule. As of Wednesday night at 8 p.m., the DCPS dashboard of confirmed COVID-19 cases shows 10 confirmed cases in students and two confirmed cases in staff members at the school.
How many COVID-19 cases has DCPS reported since students returned?
To help parents and students keep track of the number of reported COVID-19 cases in schools, the Duval County school district released an online dashboard. The dashboard only reports Duval County Public School employee or student cases impacting school operations. The total number of employees or students diagnosed with COVID-19 may be higher, according to DCPS. The cases are reported by DCPS on the date in which the district confirmed the results. Charter school data is not included due to incompatibility of information systems, according to DCPS.
Duval County school leaders hope families will remain vigilant
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As it has been since students returned from summer break, COVID-19 continues to be a topic of conversation for Duval County School District leaders. On Tuesday night, keeping students protected from the coronavirus was discussed during a school board meeting. While considering the COVID-19 testing contract, Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene gave a presentation showing that there has been a 9% increase in resignations among school staff during the pandemic. While updating the school district’s dashboard that tracks reported COVID-19 cases in brick and mortar schools, she showed to date that 1,256 students and staff members have been quarantined. Elizabeth Anderson, the school board vice chair, said the district will continue to keep risk management protocols in place, but she pleaded with families to stay vigilant by using face coverings and remaining socially distanced.
Nease vs. Mandarin High football game postponed due to virus concerns
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Friday’s varsity football game between the Mandarin Mustangs and the Nease Panthers was postponed “due to impacts of COVID-19,” according to an email from the Duval County School District. “As the Mandarin team was gathering to make the trip to Nease for the game, we became aware of a player testing positive. With no time to bring in the Department of Health for contact tracing, the game had to be postponed,” a spokesperson said in a prepared statement. The district said that earlier Friday, contract tracing had been completed on another Mandarin High case, and decision was made to proceed. However, a new case surfaced and with no time to perform contact tracing, the district postponed the game.
Man in custody after standoff in Arlington neighborhood
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man was taken into custody Monday evening after a standoff with police officers in an Arlington neighborhood. Officers were called to a home near the intersection of Roger and Brandemere roads, not far from Arlington Heights Elementary School. Cruisers with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Duval County School District were in the area. A woman told police she was threatened by a man who brandished a firearm. The Sheriff’s Office said Henry Addison, 43, was taken into custody.
With Thin Blue Line flags & signs, dozens gather outside Fletcher High School
NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – Just before the Fletcher High School football team was set to kickoff Friday, dozens of people lined up along Seagate Avenue, many waving Thin Blue Line flags. The players came up with a decal that was approved by the Duval County School District, which they can wear on their helmets to honor Lavender. In addition to the flags people were waving Friday evening, some held signs and others wore T-shirts that read: “I know Andy,” referring to Lavender. Sarah Taylor, event coordinator for Blue Lives Matter, said flying the blue flag at football games is a good way for a son to honor his father. "He’s been carrying the flag for over a year.”The badge that some players are wearing on their helmet contains Lavender’s initials and his badge number.
Decision to be made on Duval County Public School hybrid schedules
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. In two weeks, the Duval County School District could make a decision on whether it will continue to offer hybrid learning schedules. According to Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, the majority of reported COVID-19 cases are in elementary schools, which have reported at least 15 cases. Its unclear exactly how many cases have been reported in Duval County Public Schools, and its unknown where they have been reported. Records show an attorney for the school district sent a letter to the Florida Department of Health asking for permission to publish the data. Originally, the district planned to stop the hybrid schedules on the Sept. 14.
DCPS high school games will be open to limited number of fans
For fans watching a game at an indoor venue, like a gymnasium, face coverings will be required. In football, fans have a big impact on the game, Allen said. Its still fans, but it aint the same amount.OJ Small, the head coach at Lee High, said a lot has already changed during practice. Our water breaks look way different because everyones bringing in their own water, Small said. DCPS says parents of athletes will have priority for tickets to games where stadiums are expected to reach capacity.
DCPS COVID-19 dashboard on hold due to privacy concerns
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. After the Duval County School District said it was working on a way to inform parents and students of COVID-19 cases reported in schools, the district announced Wednesday those plans are now on hold. The district said the Florida Department of Health in Duval notified the school district on Tuesday that under Florida Statute 381.0031, the district cannot publish school-specific data related to COVID-19 without permission from the Florida Department of Health at the state level. The district previously said the dashboard would display confirmed cases on school campuses among students and staff and that it will be updated overnight. The district says parents will receive a robocall with a general notification if a positive case impacts other students at the school. Additionally, DCPS says a school will be closed if 20% of a school reports exposure to the virus.
DCPS: Over 43K students lack technology needed for Duval HomeRoom, district eyes purchase of 50K devices
“Currently, 43,000 students lack the technology that they need to effectively participate in Duval HomeRoom,” Chief Information Officer Jim Culbert said. Culbert added that by the end of the 2020 spring semester, the district was still handing out laptop devices to students. “Not having full, reliable internet access at home is a huge issue with some of our students,” Culbert said. The finalization of the plan will allow parents and families to make a final decision on their student’s learning method, thereby clarifying the district’s technology needs. The district’s full 2020-2021 technology plan can be reviewed here.
Duval school district, teachers union negotiating work conditions
The Duval County School District on Tuesday released its draft plan that goes against the order for some students, at least to start the school year. As some its back-to-school plans come into focus, teachers have been asking what the district plans to do if teachers contract COVID-19. Teachers union representatives have told News4Jax that negotiations surrounding working conditions for teachers are changing daily. Veteran Duval County teacher Sal Castronobo said going back into a school building is too big a risk for his family. News4Jax sent questions to the district asking how the leave plan will work, but its still unclear if the district will add that leave to the sick leave teachers have already accrued.
Jacksonville police looking to hire 31 school crossing guards
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. As the Duval County School District continued to hash out a back-to-school plan, the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office announced Tuesday that it needs to hire crossing guards. In a news release, the Sheriffs Office said it hopes to fill 31 vacancies. Crossing guards are part-time employees who work one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon outside elementary schools. Crossing guards work a maximum of 10 hours per week and receive a wage of $10.75 an hour. As of Monday, JSO said it had school crossing guard openings in these ZIP codes:
Facing The Fall: School reopening plans come into focus, but a lot is still unsettled
The Clay County School Board met Tuesday afternoon to talk about reopening schools. They were greeted by dozens of people who showed up, asking the school district to mandate face masks. St. Johns County School Board asks district to push back school start date 2 weeksThe majority of St. Johns County School Board members asked the district to push back the school start date at least two weeks during a regular school board meeting but didnt vote on the change because it wasnt on the agenda. Some said the teacher was being an alarmist, others agreed what the school board decides could be a matter of life or death. As the Duval County School District continued to hash out a back-to-school plan, the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office announced Tuesday that it needs to hire crossing guards.
Parent group calls for Duval public schools to require masks & postpone school year
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A newly formed group is calling on Duval County Public Schools to require masks in buildings, postpone the school year until after the Republican National Convention and many other changes to the district’s reopening plan. The congregation of parents and stakeholders from around the Duval County School District formed the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team on Friday and brought a litany of concerns to the school board during its special meeting Tuesday morning. On Tuesday, the School Board agreed to spend more than $4 million through the district’s COVID-19 fund to purchase and install 120,000 desk partitions. RELATED: Duval school board approves plan to buy desk barriers for studentsThe congregation believes every grade level, including middle and high school, should have the full-time option to keep learning virtually. Additionally, the group believes middle and high school students should also have an option to be at school full-time, saying that school is a safe haven for many students in troubled homes.
Duval superintendent: Traditional graduation ceremonies still planned — for now
I’ll never forget the sacrifices you are making to protect the health and safety of many others.”High school seniors said the announcement gives them hope. Graduating from Mandarin High School is something Aaliyah Rocourt and Daizha Brown have looked forward to for years. At least one other school district in Northeast Florida has already decided to cancel traditional graduations. The St. Johns County School District said it is pursuing a virtual option for graduations to be done before the end of May. The Nassau County School District told News4Jax last week that it was still looking at different options for graduations.
More than 450 Duval County school employees are reporting the need to self-isolate, according to the district
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 450 Duval County school employees are reporting the need to self-isolate, according to the Duval County School District. This comes after school officials sent out a survey to school employees asking where they traveled over spring break. The school district announced Friday plans to extend spring break another week, with students returning to school on March 23. “It’s not a lot considering we have a school district of 13,000 employees,” Duval Teachers United President Terrie Brady said. It’s still unclear how many Duval County students might need to self-isolate due to possible exposure to the coronavirus.
Bus driver’s pay raises in question as school board explores new vendor
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 200 Duval County School bus drivers have signed their names to petition the Duval County School Board over a contract decision that could put hundreds of bus driver pay raises at risk. The petition, signed by 261 drivers with First Student Transportation, lays out concerns over the school district’s recommendation that Student Transportation of America take over another school zone. It’s a company that, records show, will pay bus drivers less than the current company plans to pay next school year. Currently, the Duval County School District has five separate contracts for each geographic school area. “We believe in offering a good economic package so people want to be school bus drivers again.”In a letter to the school board, drivers wrote: “We have never thought of a strike before, and do not want to strike, but feel the offer Lee Rd.
Some neighbors against plan to close Northwestern Middle in future
The schools affected by the plan include Lake Forest Elementary and Northwestern Middle School. The districts plan to convert Northwestern into an elementary school is contingent upon whether voters approve a half-cent sales tax to fund the districts master facilities plan. He does not agree with Greenes decision to close Northwestern Middle. Now-shuttered Lake Forest Elementary, which is less than 2 miles away from Northwestern, received an F grade in 2018-19. Greene: "My plan is that Northwestern will close at the end of the 2019-20 school year."
Mayor Curry shares concerns, questions on school sales tax
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Mayor Lenny Curry called into The Morning Show on Wednesday, speaking about his questions and concerns with the Duval County School Boards request for a half-cent sales tax referendum, and the school district is responding. The Duval County School District said several meetings have been held in past weeks between school district leaders and city leaders. Some were closed door meetings involving Curry, City Council President Aaron Bowman, Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene and School Board Chair Lori Hershey. SUMMARY: School district's response to CurryThe Master Facilities Plan, released weeks ago by the school district, breaks down the amount of money that would be spent on each individual school. LINK: Half-cent sales tax analysesSchool district leaders said at a recent meeting between the school district and City Council, members were encouraged to ask any financial questions to the financial firm, but no questions were asked.