Florida universities shy from stronger COVID rules. They won’t say why.
Repeatedly in recent days, university leaders have pushed aside calls for safety measures like mask mandates, stronger action to encourage vaccinations, or the ability to temporarily teach online. Faculty groups, meanwhile, have been voicing fears about multiplying coronavirus cases with a deepening sense of outrage. University officials say the state has legally tied their hands from taking stronger action. But they have declined to explain exactly what rules or laws prevent them from challenging the state like many school districts have. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Florida Trend Exclusive
Tampa entrepreneur Samyr Qureshi's tutoring business Knack is soaring
Samyr Qureshi says apps, online lessons, Zoom School, artificial intelligence and other technology only go so far in helping students learn. He believes the future of education involves building a human community around the student experience, with technology facilitating access. “Sometimes you really do need someone to walk you through it personally and build a relationship along the way, and we think there’s a huge opportunity and still a long way to go. The best way to learn is generally from someone who has been there before.” [Source: Florida Trend]
Column: Adjunct professors deserve better pay and benefits
Over the last few years, Florida’s college system has seen a growth in adjunct hiring. This increase has allowed colleges and universities to provide lower pay, no benefits and to skirt payroll taxes that would contribute toward their retirement and health care, a benefit afforded to almost all other types of workers. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Florida teachers on edge as mask war, COVID surge mark first weeks of school
Parents in Florida and across the United States have clashed with school and health officials in what has become a politicized tussle over COVID precautions. Two small districts that did not require masks have had to shut down because of soaring COVID cases. With staff members sick or quarantined, bus driver and teacher shortages have led to overcrowding on buses and larger class sizes, making social distancing harder, Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar said. [Source: Reuters]
More than a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, billions of federal relief dollars, under two different administrations, have been set aside for schools. It is money meant to help fund everything from sanitation and safety measures to mental health services, as well as additional learning opportunities as districts have dealt with interrupted schedules and virtual learning hurdles. [Source: WTSP]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Alachua County Public Schools joins two other districts in lawsuit against state of Florida [Gainesville Sun]
Three Florida school districts have filed a legal challenge against the Florida Department of Health stating that the emergency rules issued on Aug. 9 are "an invalid exercise of legislative authority." Alachua, Broward and Orange counties, known collectively in the legal challenge as the "School Boards," are being represented by the law firm Greenberg Traurig.
› Palm Beach County, city approve plans for UF campus [AP]
In back-to-back, unanimous votes, commissioners in Palm Beach County and West Palm Beach approved preliminary plans to have the University of Florida open a campus near downtown, a move supporters described as “historic” and “transformative.” City commissioners approved the idea on Monday night. County commissioners followed up with their own approval on Tuesday morning.
› 'It will transform our program': University of West Florida music school receives $8.5 million donation [Pensacola News Journal]
The lifelong passion for music shared by the late Dr. Herman and Valerie Rolfs has led to a massive endowment that will impact generations of music students at the University of West Florida. The university received a donation worth more than $8.5 million from the Rolfses' estate last year.
› NSF awards three Florida public universities $5M to help academically talented computing students graduate and continue their education [FIU News]
Three Florida public universities are joining forces to help academically talented juniors in computer-related fields complete their undergraduate studies and pursue their graduate education. Florida International University, the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida — which together make up the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities — have collectively received a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to form the Florida IT Graduation Attainment Pathways (Flit-GAP) program.