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Jessica Bakeman

Jessica Bakeman reports on K-12 and higher education for WLRN, south Florida's NPR affiliate. While new to Miami and public radio, Jessica is a seasoned journalist who has covered education policymaking and politics in three state capitals: Jackson, Miss.; Albany, N.Y.; and, most recently, Tallahassee.

Jessica first moved to the Sunshine State in 2015 to help launch POLITICO Florida as part of the company’s national expansion. She is the immediate past president of the Capitol Press Club of Florida, a nonprofit organization that raises money for college scholarships benefiting journalism students.

Jessica was an original member of POLITICO New York’s Albany bureau. Also in the Empire State, Jessica covered politics for The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. As part of Gannett’s three-person Albany bureau, she won the New York Publishers Association award for distinguished state government coverage in 2013 and 2014. Jessica twice chaired a planning committee for the Albany press corps’ annual political satire show, the oldest of its kind in the country.

She started her career at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson. There she won the Louisiana/Mississippi Associated Press Managing Editors’ 2013 first place award for continuing coverage of former Gov. Haley Barbour’s decision to pardon more than 200 felons as he left office.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and English literature from SUNY Plattsburgh, a public liberal arts college in northeastern New York. She (proudly) hails from Rochester, N.Y.

  • It's not a final decision on the question on whether facial coverings can be required in school. Legal challenges are continuing in state and federal proceedings.
  • The chair of the Florida Board of Education said recommending that school board members are removed from office is on the table.
  • A state judge is expected to make a quick ruling over mask mandates in Florida schools, as the state Board of Education plans its next moves. Meanwhile, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho discussed how "difficult" the coming weeks will be in his annual back-to-school speech.
  • Broward County is one of a growing number of school districts that are pushing back against Gov. Ron DeSantis' rules prohibiting mask mandates in schools.
  • Hospitalization rates in Florida due to the coronavirus pandemic broke another record, Tuesday, for the third consecutive day, reaching 11,515 patients. Sarasota Memorial Hospital also reported another record high number of COVID-19 patients, Tuesday, and other hospital systems throughout Southwest Florida also continue to report increases.In defiance of guidance from the CDC and public health experts in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis continues to oppose requiring mask wearing in schools as the start of a new school year is just weeks away.Fully vaccinated students and staff in the Sarasota County School District will not be required to quarantine if they're exposed to COVID-19. The school board confirmed that policy change, Tuesday, for the coming school year. However, anyone showing symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to quarantine.A new investigative report from the Orlando Sentinel finds that the death rate for people with COVID-19 at Florida correctional facilities is more than 1.5 times that of the general public. WLRN’s radio program “Sundial,” recently took a closer look at the report.
  • With Florida at the epicenter of a nationwide resurgence of COVID-19 infections, some local governments are defying Republican Governor Ron DeSantis with new mask and vaccine mandates. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried plans to begin providing daily COVID-19 data to the media after the state switched to only providing weekly data in June. Lee Health and NCH hospitals report 600% and 800% increases in COVID-19 patients who are mostly unvaccinated. High levels of community spread and low vaccination rates are putting many nursing homes in Florida at risk for COVID-19 outbreaks. Some facilities are taking extra precautions.
  • State health officials report that as of Wednesday, more than 9.7 million people in Florida have been vaccinated against COVID-19, including more than two million people who have received a first dose and more than 7.7 million people who have either completed a two-dose series or have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. More than 20,000 young teens in Florida have received a vaccine dose since eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine expanded to include people as young as 12 nearly a week ago.Estimates from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reports more than 51,100 people in Florida have died from the coronavirus, which is far more than the Florida Department of Health’s official report of nearly 37,000 deaths.Students in Sarasota County schools will no longer have to quarantine following an exposure to COVID-19 if they have been fully vaccinated.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a controversial bill into law that will significantly change the voting process in Florida. He also did it at an exclusive West Palm Beach event with supporters, that was only broadcast on Fox News — raising legal questions and outcry over a lack of transparency.
  • State health officials reported nearly 5,600 new COVID-19 cases, Sunday bringing Florida's total to 734,491 cases. The Florida Department of Health also reported 180 new coronavirus-related deaths, Oct. 11, increasing the statewide death toll to 15,552 fatalities.Sunday's single day case load increase was larger than what the health department has been reporting recently, after health officials did not update the state's coronavirus online dashboard Saturday, for the first time in seven months.
  • Many parents appear to be keeping their children out of public school, especially from kindergarten. The declines could mean less state funding for school districts.