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Lee County School District

  • Lee County Public Schools has a new Superintendent in Christopher Bernier, who took the oath of office on Monday to serve the district.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a new record high number of new COVID-19 cases in Florida on Dec. 31 with more than 75,900 new infections. The ongoing surge driven by the Omicron variant is impacting hospitals and schools in Southwest Florida.
  • The Lee County School District faced yet another hiccup in transportation this week. Eighty three drivers called in sick Monday morning, leaving parents in a lurch.
  • Hospitals in Southwest Florida continue to report declines in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Lee Health officials say they plan to comply with a new Biden Administration rule requiring some employers to require workers to be vaccinated or to be tested for COVID-19 weekly.Child advocates and Democrats are criticizing Gov. Ron DeSantis after his administration passed on $820 million in federal funds to help feed children from low-income families who are out of school due to a COVID-19 infection or exposure.The Lee County School District has changed its policy to allow parents to opt their children out of mask-wearing in school without a doctor’s note.Thousands of Sarasota parents turned out for an event last weekend, where physicians were providing medical exemption forms to the school district’s mask mandate.Florida Deputy Secretary for Health Shamarial Roberson, who has been critical in the state’s COVID tracking and response, announced her resignation.Collier County officials have announced plans for spending $74 million in federal American Rescue Plan fundingA consortium of Sarasota arts organizations announced plans to adopt uniform COVID safety policies that require vaccines or proof of a negative COVID test.
  • A Leon County judge, Wednesday, vacated an automatic stay on Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates. This provides a temporary reprieve allowing school districts with mask mandates to keep them in place. Judge John Cooper said the state didn’t prove how it would be harmed if the ruling was allowed to go into effect.Lee County School District officials sent a letter to the Department of Education responding to threats of withholding state funds and imposing other sanctions over the district’s mandatory mask rule. In the response, officials say the Lee School District’s mask rule is in compliance with state law.Lee Health has surpassed 1,000 deaths of hospitalized COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic. Overall COVID patient populations in Southwest Florida hospitals are in decline even as in-hospital deaths have been on the rise in recent days.
  • Two lawsuits over mask wearing in Florida schools will get hearings today. A state judge is considering whether local school district mandates will be able to stay in place until an appeals court weighs in on a ruling last month that struck down Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates. A separate federal suit arguing that kids with disabilities and severe medical conditions are so vulnerable that they won’t be able to go to school unless everyone is wearing a mask.Statewide COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are on the decline. Health officials are cautiously optimistic as hospital resources remain strained.More COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lee County schools in the first four weeks of this school year than were reported in the entire last school year. The number of COVID infections reported in Collier County Schools is on pace to surpass the last school year’s total by the end of this month.Gas prices in Florida over the Labor Day holiday weekend were at their highest level in seven years due to the pandemic and impacts from Hurricane Ida.
  • The ongoing surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations largely driven by the Delta variant has resulted in an exponential increase in pediatric patients requiring treatment and hospitalization in Lee Health’s Golisano Children’s Hospital in Fort Myers. The start of a new school year, with mask wearing optional, is raising concerns among local healthcare professionals.
  • With the 2021-2022 school year about to begin during a persisting pandemic, professionals share resources and advice for helping students cope with back-to-school anxiety, bullying, and more.
  • Controversy continued Monday night over the Lee County School District’s student code of conduct, particularly as it pertains to non-discrimination policy concerning LGBTQ students. District staff recommend the removal of an Equality Florida poster from schools that spell out LGBTQ student rights.
  • State Health officials reported 2,826 new COVID-19 cases and 93 deaths on Monday. Meanwhile more than 4.2 million people in Florida have been vaccinated, including more than 1.88 people who have received a first dose, more than 2.2 million who have completed the series with two doses and more than 90,000 people who have received the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.On Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis expanded vaccine eligibility to adults 60 and older and he expressed confidence that Florida will open vaccine eligibility to all adults by President Joe Biden’s deadline of May 1.