A peek at how one high school handles its COVID-19 challenges

SARASOTA, Florida — Mackenzie Altman was trying to get her Booker High School students excited about the role of government.

“What do you think is the most important thing for the government to do?” the social studies department chair asked recently, throwing out several options.

It was a standard “bell work” activity for her American government class, geared to get students interested in the day’s lesson and spark conversations. She leads this type of discussion every day, but with COVID-19 restrictions in place, nearly everything about it was different.

Everyone was wearing masks, except for a group of students in a Zoom meeting box projected on a large monitor at the front of the class. Most of these “remote learners” seemed to be sitting in their bedrooms, and many had angled their laptops so that just the tops of their foreheads were visible.

The in-person students tried to keep their

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Anne Arundel Teases Hybrid School Plan At Coronavirus Town Hall

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD — Hybrid schooling may be closer than previously thought. At a Thursday evening town hall, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman announced the framework for what a partial return to school could look like.

The duo understands some parents’ urge to get back in schools as soon as possible. They know that distance learning is hard on everybody, but they notice a heavier toll on younger students.

“The younger they are, the more important it is to get them back,” Kalyanaraman said.
“As the father of a second-grader, I can assure you I know what you’re talking about.”

That’s why Anne Arundel County is examining a phased reopening of school buildings. Under this option, elementary schoolers would adopt a hybrid model sooner than older students.

Kalyanaraman says this idea is rooted in recent findings that explain how coronavirus acts

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One in nine pupils absent from school as lack of testing drives fears of ‘lockdown by default’

Absence rate more than double pre-Covid times last Thursday (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)
Absence rate more than double pre-Covid times last Thursday (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

More than one in nine pupils were absent from school last week, government figures show, as teachers and unions warned a lack of available coronavirus tests meant more schools would be forced to close, leading to “lockdown by default”.

After schools reopened in England following six months of closure during the pandemic, education secretary Gavin Williamson touted the fact that 99.9 per cent of schools were open to at least some pupils.

But absence rates were more than double that of pre-Covid times, with Department for Education (DfE) statistics suggesting 12 per cent of pupils were not in attendance on 10 September.

Some 92 per cent of state schools were fully open, the DfE estimates, providing face-to-face teaching for pupils all day with no groups self-isolating. In these schools, 90 per cent of pupils were in

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Temperature checks. Spread out desks. How the first day went in a reopened Sacramento school

There were temperature checks for students and desks spread out. Hallways marked so students would only walk in one direction, cutting down on congestion. Everyone was in masks.

This was the school experience on Monday at St. John Vianney in Rancho Cordova, one of 19 campuses in Sacramento County that received a waiver last week to reopen classroom instruction with coronavirus safeguards in place. Of those campuses, 16 were part of the Sacramento Diocese, whose officials worked closely with county health officials to reopen campuses for students in grades TK through sixth grade.

Students at St. John Vianney returned to campus early in the morning, ready for a full day of instruction. Teachers handed students their bags of supplies: books, crayons, and other school materials. There will be no sharing supplies this school year. Students tucked their materials under their desks, near or in pouches behind their chairs.

Classrooms were

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Trump, DeVos raise school choice in appeal to vexed parents

As millions of American children start the school year online, the Trump administration is hoping to convert their parents’ frustration and anger into newfound support for school choice policies that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has long championed but struggled to advance nationally.

DeVos and President Donald Trump have repeatedly invoked school choice as the solution to parents’ woes. If public schools fail to open, they say, parents should get a cut of the district’s federal funding to send their children to private schools or for home schooling, learning pods or other options that have arisen during the coronavirus pandemic.

For Trump, it’s seen as a potential lifeline to Black and Hispanic voters, who are more likely to support vouchers and other school choice options, polls have found. Speaking at the White House in July, Trump declared that “there is nothing that the African American community wants more than school choice.”

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High court hi-jinks, Biden’s Latino troubles and Bloomberg TV play, failed first school days

It’s Monday, Sept. 14, and today is the deadline for Gov. Ron DeSantis to make his appointment to the Florida Supreme Court and fix the high-profile defeat.

The conservative court on Friday stood by its ruling that the governor’s first choice, Palm Beach County Judge Renatha Francis, was not eligible to hold the post and ordered the governor to take the do-over by the end of the day Monday. Because the governor must choose from a list of seven candidates that now includes no Blacks, the seven-member court will be without a Black justice for the first time in more than 40 years.

Defeat and revenge: It was an embarrassing defeat for the governor who campaigned on a promise to fill the court with conservative justices who would adhere to a textualist judicial philosophy — meaning they would adhere to the plain words of the legal text. The court then

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School Districts Are Facing Chromebook Shortages as Students Shift to Online Learning

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty

School districts are facing difficulty securing Chromebooks for students this year due to supply shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With students across the country starting the school year at home, laptops and computers have become necessities to participate in classes or do coursework. Chromebooks — which run on Google’s Chrome operating system — have been a popular choice for students thanks to their low-price range. While high-end Chromebooks can cost hundreds of dollars, the most affordable models run just under $300.

But communities have been struck with Chromebook shortages over the last few weeks, due to high, nationwide demand for the machines and a slowdown in production.

According to the Associated Press, Lenovo, HP and Dell — three companies that make their own versions of Chromebooks — have said they will be short 5 million laptop units this year. The outlet said the

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Miami-Dade School Board votes to cut ties with K12 online learning platform

The Miami-Dade County School Board has voted unanimously to stop using My School Online, the district’s controversial new online learning platform many say is at the center of the failed start of school.

The board voted to sever ties just before 2 a.m. Thursday, 13 hours after the meeting began. Teachers can begin using other platforms immediately.

The early morning decision sent some elementary schools into a scramble. Some schools that never used Microsoft Teams, like Bob Graham Education Center, were caught off guard and quickly went to work to set up Zoom meetings to find a way to educate students.

The School Board debate and vote stretched into the middle of the night because members had to finish public comment on Vice Chair Steve Gallon’s catch-all proposal to get to the bottom of what went wrong. In the first board meeting since school began Aug. 31, nearly 400 teachers

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Teachers Are Spending Their Own Money On School Supplies Due To COVID-19

It’s no secret that teachers usually have to supplement their classroom supplies with money from their own pockets. In fact, 94% of U.S. public school teachers reported paying for supplies without reimbursement for the 2014-2015 school year, according to a federal Department of Education survey.

It’s not just a few bucks, either. The average teacher shelled out about $479 throughout the year, while 7% of survey respondents said they spent more than $1,000.

This year, it’s a whole new ballgame. Not only must teachers keep their classrooms stocked with glue sticks, pencils and construction paper, they need enough inventory to ensure children don’t share supplies and spread germs across the classroom. Plus, they have to maintain a large supply of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. And it’s not any cheaper for those who are teaching virtually.

The High Cost Of Teaching During A Pandemic

Ashley, a second grade teacher

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11 Remote Learning Truths From Parents Whose Kids Have Started School

Many kids across the country are starting the school year from the confines of their own homes, as both large school districts and individual parents are keeping students remote this fall. 

What can parents expect this fall? What’s been working and what hasn’t? A warning: It doesn’t seem to be going too great overall. 

We asked parents in our Facebook community whose kids have started the school year virtually about what we should know. Read on to find out what they had to say. 

“I live in Metairie, Louisiana, and my son is attending first grade virtually for at least the first nine weeks. He started yesterday, and naturally there were hiccups with the format. However, I am truly flabbergasted that in general the district seemed extremely underprepared for a virtual learning option. … Teachers seem overwhelmed by the virtual format. So far, the majority of the class periods have

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