Top Three Takeaways – August 9th, 2021
- Heading for the exists? Friday was set to be a pivotal day for the upcoming school year, and it delivered. The Florida Board of Education’s special session was indeed special – as they adopted Governor DeSantis’s position on school mask mandates and in so doing provided an additional opportunity for parents to head for the exits if their children are made to feel uncomfortable in the classroom or on the bus. In adopting the rule, the Board stated this: Unnecessarily isolating, quarantining, or subjecting children to physical COVID-19 constraints in schools poses a threat to developmental upbringing and should not occur absent a heightened showing of actual illness or serious risk of illness to other students. The rule change mandates that all parents have an option to opt their children out of masks even if school districts issue mandates. This provides a tale of three different South Florida school districts. First, there’s Broward, where something must give. Broward’s mask mandate of two weeks ago, turned non-mandate a week ago, turned mandate again later last week, isn’t legal as it doesn’t provide for parental opt out. Nothing less should be expected from a failed school board which has presided over its Chief Technology Officer, top attorney and Superintendent having been arrested this year. Anyway, by the end of the day Tuesday there will be a new policy in place, the question is simply what it will be. It’s likely to look like Palm Beach County’s...where the Superintendent unilaterally implemented a mask mandate Friday afternoon, with a corresponding parental opt out to comply with state law. And then there’s Miami-Dade where masks are currently optional.
- Something’s got to give. Attendance had already been waning and often even dropping in South Florida’s traditional public schools in recent years, even as population growth has surged. This has occurred as increasingly Florida’s school choice options have been used by those seeking vouchers to escape underperforming schools. That was even before the pandemic and the tens of thousands of “lost students” and the effort by the Florida Education Association to implement Critical Race Theory into public education and the call of the FEA’s parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, representing 78% of Florida’s public-school teachers to teach it anyway in violation of Florida law. Add mask mandates into the mix, along with another potential catalyst for parents, regardless of income, to move their maskless kids, should they being bullied or harassed, out of traditional public schools and we’re libel to see a lot that gives this year. But first up Broward’s policy, which will change for the fourth time in two weeks. Meanwhile it remains...
- Peak pandemic in Florida. Saturday’s 23,903 new cases of COVID-19 didn’t just establish a new high for daily cases, it served as a reminder that we still haven’t seen the summer surge peak - unless Saturday turns out to be the peak – which isn’t likely to happen because... According to the Mayo Clinic’s tracker – even the best case over the next two weeks has Florida experiencing a 22% increase in new cases. Here’s to hoping you and your family aren’t among them.