Florida governor says closures don’t work, schools stay open

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla., regarding education and COVID-19 at Boggy Creek Elementary School.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla., regarding education and COVID-19 at Boggy Creek Elementary School.
—Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel via AP

Miami

Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Monday that schools will be required to remain open despite the rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, arguing lockdowns and closures have not worked.

DeSantis also said the state was not considering any further restrictions on businesses that could lead to layoffs or financial loss.

DeSantis said countries like Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland all kept children in schools with positive outcomes, and argued that some studies show the virus can spread more when children don’t go to school because they socialize off campus. DeSantis criticized those who are pushing again for closures as cases rise.

“Closing schools due to coronavirus is probably the biggest public health blunder in modern American history,” he said at a news conference. “People who advocate closing schools for virus mitigation are effectively today’s flat-earthers.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the spread of the virus among children “is not really very big at all” and is now advising to get children back in the classrooms.

The governor said schools will continue to offer online classes for families who have chosen not to physically return, but school districts will require students who have fallen behind in the virtual mode to go back in person.

“The virtual learning is not the same as being in person,” DeSantis said.

Florida has seen cases rise again, now totaling more than 990,000 confirmed cases since the pandemic began earlier this year. More than 18,700 people have died with COVID-19 since March.

The governor acknowledged the rise in cases, but said a surge in other states is more concerning. He also compared the current COVID-19 hospitalizations at 4,100 to about 10,000 reported in the summer.

“We’ve seen cases increase but look at all the other states that are seeing them increase way, way more,” DeSantis said. “If you look at the per-capita hospitalizations, we are not even close to the top of the stuff. So I think people should put it in perspective.”

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BCPS to Serve as a National Model to Help Bring Computer Science to More Students Across the Country

Broward Codes- Computer Science in every school, for every student.

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) computer science initiative will serve as a national model for broadening participation in computer science in schools. Over the next four years, BCPS will participate in three Computer Science for All grants, which were recently awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The three grants focus on increasing participation in Computer Science education among underserved groups, including minority students and students with disabilities.

The grants include:

  • Collaborative Research: A research-practice partnership focused on creating equitable computer science opportunities for elementary students – Will integrate computer science through problem-based learning units that will eventually be made available nationwide on Code.org, one of the largest providers of K-12 computer science content. The grant was awarded to BCPS in partnership with Outlier Research & Evaluation at UChicago STEM Education at the University of Chicago and with the University of Florida.
  • Universal Design for Computer Science Learning: Partnership for Inclusive Elementary Computer Science Education – focuses on increasing participation in computer science among elementary students with disabilities. This grant was awarded to the University of Florida, with BCPS selected as one of four partnering school districts.
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Community of Practice to Prepare and Support Teachers to Teach Rigorous Computer Science Courses in Culturally Diverse School Districts – this grant will leverage HBCU to facilitate a series of professional development trainings for high school computer science teachers. The grant was awarded to the Quality Education for Minorities Network, in partnership with L.L. Burge and Associates, LLC., and Florida Memorial University. BCPS was selected as one of three participating school districts.

BCPS offers computer science courses, curriculum and activities at every elementary, middle and high school. Computer science prepares students to innovate and create the new technologies that drive local and national economies – and provide them the ability to make a difference in a global society. To learn more about the District’s computer science initiative, visit browardschools.com/browardcodes.

For more information, contact Dr. Lisa Milenkovic, Supervisor, Applied Learning: STEM + Computer Science, at 754-321-2623 or lisa.milenkovic@browardschools.com.

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS “Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest school district in the nation and the second largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has nearly 261,500 students and approximately 110,000 adult students in 241 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 92 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 170 different countries and 147 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit browardschools.com, follow us on Twitter @browardschools, on Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools.com and download the free BCPS mobile app.

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Florida mayors plead with governor to take action on virus

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Five Florida mayors on Wednesday said they were extremely concerned about the rising number of coronavirus cases in the state, and begged Gov. Ron DeSantis to change his approach to the virus in hopes of slowing the spread.

Following a monthslong decline from its huge summer spike in the outbreak, Florida has seen a mid-autumn climb in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Still, the governor has resisted a return to statewide restrictions in place earlier in the year.

“What Florida is doing right now isn’t working,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, during a sharply worded news conference on Zoom. “We’re failing pretty horribly … Positive cases are rising steeply and it’s spreading everywhere. We don’t believe it’s going to change unless we do something different.””

Over the past week, Florida averaged more than 6,500 newly reported cases per day, a steady increase since numbers of about 2,250 at the start of October. Hospitalizations have gone from between 2000 and 2,200 for most of October to more than 3,500 on Wednesday, according to a state online census of hospitals.

The seven-day average of reported deaths is about 62, up from 54 a week earlier. That compares to a peak of 185 in early August. A total of 17,861 people have died.

Gelber was joined by the mayors of Hialeah, Miami Shores Village, Sunrise, and St. Petersburg. The group called for consistency in statewide regulations and made four specific recommendations:

1. Implement a statewide mask mandate;

2. Allow cities and counties to be able to enhance local measures, such as additional penalties for not wearing masks;

3. Restore state testing facilities to full capacity;

4. Beef up contact tracing and use a Covid tracking app developed by Google and Apple.

All of the mayors said they share the governor’s goal in keeping the economy open.

“We understand the economic impact that potentially some of these orders could have but we’re also trying to look at this from a long term basis as opposed to short term.” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. “If we don’t deal with this now, the economic catastrophe that we are facing will be worse if we have to go to a complete shut down.”

Said Miami Shores Village Mayor Crystal Wagar: “Give us the tools we need, to get to the vaccine with the fewest deaths.”

The mayors were especially concerned about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Families want to gather, they said, and folks come to Florida from the north.

“I am so fearful,” said Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez.

It’s unclear what, if anything, DeSantis will do in the wake of these recommendations. On Sept. 25, DeSantis signed an executive order that prevented municipalities from fining people for violating a mask ordinance and has stated that he’s not going to have any more lockdowns.

On Wednesday, DeSantis tweeted that he met with Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar this week to talk about distribution of a vaccine. “We also discussed the availability of the new monoclonal antibody treatment & the promising prospects of this new therapeutic,” he wrote.

Florida’s education commissioner on Wednesday gave some sign of flexibility at the state level with the difficult situation. Richard Corcoran said during a state Board of Education meeting in Tallahassee that students will be allowed to attend classes online through the end of the school year due to the pandemic.

The state’s K-12 pandemic plan for the second semester of classes will be laid out in a new emergency order, probably before Thanksgiving, Corcoran said.

“I think we are on a pretty good schedule to get that done,” Corcoran said.

While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.

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Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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Virus worries latest hurdle in Florida school shooting case

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Concerns about the coronavirus in jail emerged Tuesday as the latest roadblock in the death penalty case against Nikolas Cruz, who is accused in the 2018 massacre that killed 17 people at a Florida high school.

Defense attorneys said at a hearing they want written health safety procedures from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office before Cruz’s lawyers and mental health experts enter the jail to evaluate him. A lawyer for the sheriff’s office said it is working to accommodate those issues.

Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer asked both sides to work toward a solution and set another status hearing for Dec. 11.

Cruz, 22, is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the Valentine’s Day 2018 shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. His attorneys have said he will plead guilty in exchange for a life prison sentence, but prosecutors have rejected that offer and insist on a trial.

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Broward County School Board Elects New Chair, Vice Chair New and Re-elected Board Members Sworn In

November 17, 2020 

Dr. Rosalind Osgood, District 5 as Chair and Laurie Rich Levinson, District 6 as Vice Chair

On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, The School Board of Broward County, Florida elected Dr. Rosalind Osgood, District 5 as Chair and Laurie Rich Levinson, District 6 as Vice Chair. The nominations and election took place during the School Board’s annual Organizational Meeting.

Chair Dr. Osgood has served on the School Board since 2012. She earned master’s and doctorate degrees in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Osgood is a Broward County native and a Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) graduate of Fort Lauderdale High School.

Vice Chair Levinson was first elected to the School Board in 2010 to represent District 6.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Brandeis University. Levinson was born and raised in South Florida. 

Debra Hixon and Sarah Leonardi

Also, today, the School Board welcomed two new members during its swearing-in ceremony. 

Debra Hixon was sworn in to represent Countywide At-Large, Seat 9. Hixon began her education career with BCPS as a science teacher at Blanche Ely High School in 1989. She transferred to South Broward High School in 1994, where she most recently served as magnet coordinator for the Maritime/Marine Science & Technology magnet program.  

Sarah Leonardi was sworn in to represent District 3. Leonardi began her education career with BCPS in 2014 at Coconut Creek High School, where she was voted Teacher of the Year in 2016. She is currently an English teacher at Nova High School, where she serves as coordinator for the Literary Fair.  

Re-elected School Board Members Patricia Good, District 2, and Dr. Osgood, were also sworn in during today’s ceremony. Other School Board members currently serving terms include, Lori Alhadeff, District 4; Donna P. Korn, Countywide, Seat 8; Ann Murray, District 1; and Nora Rupert, District 7.

 

NOTE: See attached JPGs for Chair Dr. Osgood and Vice Chair Levinson, and new School Board Members Hixon and Leonardi.

 

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS  

“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”   

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest school district in the nation and the second largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has nearly 261,500 students and approximately 110,000 adult students in 241 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 92 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 170 different countries and 147 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit browardschools.com, follow us on Twitter @browardschools, on Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools.com and download the free BCPS mobile app.    

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Broward County Public Schools Swearing-in Ceremony For Newly Elected School Board Members

November 16, 2020

WHO:
School Board Members, District Administrators, Community and Family Members

WHAT:
Swearing-in Ceremony for recently elected School Board Members

WHEN:
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
9:30 a.m.

WHERE:
Kathleen C. Wright Administration Center, Boardroom
600 S. E. Third Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

WHY:
Swearing-in Ceremony for two new members – Debra Hixon and Sarah Leonardi – and two returning members – Patricia Good and Dr. Rosalind Osgood – elected to the School Board of Broward County, Florida. In addition, the School Board will hold its annual Organizational Meeting (at 1 p.m.) for nominations and election of Chair and Vice Chair.

MEDIA NOTE: To maintain physical distancing guidelines, media will not be allowed inside the Boardroom for the entirety of the ceremony but may take turns to briefly obtain b-roll. The ceremony will be live streamed at becon.tv/2020swearing-inceremony.

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest school district in the nation and the second largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is
Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has nearly 261,500 students and approximately 110,000 adult students in 241
schools, centers and technical colleges, and 92 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 170
different countries and 147 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit browardschools.com, follow us on Twitter @browardschools, on
Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools.com and download the free BCPS mobile app.

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New Parent University Series: Forging Ahead to Reinvent Teaching and Learning What’s Working and What Else Can Work?

November 13, 2020

In an effort to offer continued support to the Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) community as the District engages in a combined face-to-face and eLearning educational model, the Parent Community Involvement Task Force and BCPS staff have designed a new Parent University series that looks ahead at the changing educational landscape.

The webinar, titled “Forging Ahead to Reinvent Teaching and Learning: What is Working and What Else Can Work?,” shares the experiences of students, parents, teachers and administrators as they navigate the current learning model, highlighting ways:

  • to improve the student experience
  • teachers are using technology to enhance delivery of instruction
  • parents and students can best communicate with teachers and administrators

Additionally, District staff will communicate with attendees through an interactive chat to learn about what is working, what else can work and ways we can help shape the public educational system of the future.

Access the Parent University webinar you wish to attend by clicking the link below:

Elementary (Grades pre-K – 5) November 16, 6:30 – 8 p.m.: http://tiny.cc/ParentU-Elem

Secondary (Grades 6 – 12) November 17, 6:30 – 8 p.m.:  http://tiny.cc/ParentU-Secondary

Each webinar is available in Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian-Creole, Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese through closed captioning.

For more information about Parent University, including links to previously recorded sessions, visit browardschools.com/parentuniversity.

 

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS  

“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”    

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second largest in the state of Florida. The District is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962 and has nearly 261,000 pre-K-12th grade students and approximately 110,000 adult students in 241 schools, centers, and technical colleges, and 92 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, representing 170 different countries and 147 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit browardschools.com, follow on Twitter @browardschools and Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools, and download the free BCPS mobile app. 

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BCPS Launches Happiness Pilot Program in Support of Mindfulness Initiative

November 12, 2020

As part of Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) strategic goal of providing safe and supportive learning environments for students, the District is implementing a new program that utilizes the research-backed science of positive psychology to teach children happiness skills as part of the class curriculum.

The Happier School Program, by the Happiness Studies Academy, is a comprehensive, multi-year educational intervention program that utilizes tools and strategies to teach students how to find a sense of purpose, take care of their physical wellbeing, grow from failure and hardship, nurture healthy relationships, as well as how to deal with difficult emotions and cultivate productive ones. These skills and abilities will contribute to students’ overall wellbeing.  

The three-year pilot is being launched at Driftwood Elementary School, Driftwood Middle School and Hollywood Hills High School, which each offer the District’s Health and Wellness Magnet Program. Teachers at the schools volunteered to participate in the program and are taking a virtual course to learn how to deliver happiness instruction to their students.

“Now more than ever, it is important for our students, families and teachers to have the tools and techniques to help them find happiness in the midst of the struggles our world is facing,” said BCPS Superintendent Robert W. Runcie. “Our District is the first in the nation to make this program available to students as part of our ongoing Mindfulness Initiative, further reaffirming our commitment to the emotional wellbeing of our children.”

Research shows the expected results include improved relationships among children and adults; stronger immune systems and improved physical health; higher levels of creativity, productivity and engagement; better overall performance in school and later in life; lower rates of violence, bullying, depression and anxiety; and higher levels of resilience and self-confidence.

To Learn more about the District’s Happiness pilot program, visit browardschools.com/happiness.

Media note: The following links provide an interview with a Happiness Studies instructor and b-roll of a class:

View Happiness Studies Interview – Linda Gancitano, Peer Counselor & Happiness Studies Instructor at Driftwood Middle School.

View Happiness Studies b-roll – Class of sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students a Driftwood Middle School

 

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS  

“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”    

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second largest in the state of Florida. The District is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962 and has nearly 261,000 pre-K-12th grade students and approximately 110,000 adult students in 241 schools, centers, and technical colleges, and 92 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, representing 170 different countries and 147 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit browardschools.com, follow on Twitter @browardschools and Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools, and download the free BCPS mobile app. 

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All BCPS Campuses Reopen On Thursday, November 12, Except One

November 11, 2020

All Broward County Public Schools campuses that were closed on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, except for West Broward High School, will be fully operational on Thursday, November 12.

West Broward High will be closed for the remainder of the week. Impacted families are being notified of the closure.

Before and after school programs, activities and athletic events will also resume.

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS 

“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”  

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest school district in the nation and the second largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has nearly 261,500 students and approximately 110,000 adult students in 241 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 92 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 170 different countries and 147 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit browardschools.com, follow us on Twitter @browardschools, on Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools.com and download the free BCPS mobile app.  

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School Choice Application Window for 2021/22 School Year Opens December 1, 2020, at 8 a.m.

November 10, 2020

School Choice

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is excited to announce the School Choice application window for the 2021/22 school year takes place December 1, 2020 – February 8, 2021.

 

BCPS is a national leader for offering innovative, personalized learning programs to meet students’ interests and prepare them for college and careers. During the School Choice application window, families can apply for magnet programs, Nova schools and school reassignments, which allow students to attend schools other than their assigned schools.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to explore the District’s School Choice options by visiting browardschools.com/schoolchoice. Families can access information by student interest, grade level and individual school name. The School Choice application will be available online on the School Choice website beginning December 1, at 8 a.m.

Please note: The 2021/22 application window for the John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities for public schools begins May 1, 2021.

 

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS 

“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”  

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest school district in the nation and the second largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has nearly 261,500 students and approximately 110,000 adult students in 241 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 92 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 170 different countries and 147 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit browardschools.com, follow us on Twitter @browardschools, on Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools.com and download the free BCPS mobile app.  

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