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Sarasota County School District

  • Mask wearing is not optional for students and staff in the Sarasota County School district. The district’s mask policy calls for mask wearing to become optional once the daily COVID-19 test positivity rate drops to 8% for three consecutive days. Masking could again become mandatory if the positivity rate rises above 10%.The FDA has announced it will grant emergency use authorization for a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people 65 and older, people at high risk for severe infection, and for people whose jobs put them at high risk of exposure to the virus.The rate of healthcare workers leaving their hospital jobs amid the ongoing pandemic has spiked. The average turnover rate during a normal year is about 17.5%, but this year that’s tracking closer to 45%.Some Florida teachers have seen their $1,000 disaster relief bonus checks from the state bounce due to a banking error. The Department of Education says the problem is being addressed and that any fees incurred by those impacted will be refunded.Carnival Cruise line lost $2.8 billion in the third quarter of 2022, but passenger bookings for the second half of 2022 are already tracking to exceed pre-pandemic levels.This week a consortium of performing arts organizations in Sarasota begin imposing a uniform set of COVID safety protocols including proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to attend indoor performances.
  • The Florida Department of Health has changed its policy on school mask mandates, saying parents can opt their children out of mask wearing for any reason and that students no longer have to quarantine if they test positive for COVID-19, but have no symptoms. The rule change has led a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Florida school districts seeking to impose stricter mask-wearing policies.The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients across Florida continues to decline. HHS data indicates about 8,000 Floridians were hospitalized with the virus as of Wednesday, which is down by more than 250 patients from the day prior.Sarasota School board members are delaying action on possible changes to its public comment policy at school board meetings. The proposed changes stem from more than a year of meetings with hours of public comment and heated contention among speakers often raising concerns that are not part of the meeting’s agenda.After initially turning down $820 million in federal funds to provide food for poor children, state officials have reversed course and will now accept the money.
  • 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.
  • Governor Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody vowed, Monday, that Florida will fight local and federal COVID-19 vaccination mandates for both public and private workers. DeSantis says any Florida city or county that requires workers to get the vaccine, will be fined $5,000 per infraction.Parents suing to overturn DeSantis’ efforts to ban school districts from imposing student mask mandates are asking the Florida Supreme Court to take up the case after an appeals court, Friday, reinstated a stay on a ruling that allowed districts to keep their mask rules in place.Thousands of people attended a school mask exemption event in Venice, Sunday, where doctors were signing notes to exempt Sarasota school district students from the district’s mask mandate.Hospitals throughout Southwest Florida continue to report a decline in the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, as deaths continue to rise.
  • Governor Ron DeSantis has appealed a Leon County Circuit Court Judge’s ruling striking down his executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates.Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran sent a letter, last week, threatening to withhold state funding from the Lee County School district due to its mask-wearing policy for students, which only allows students to opt-out with a doctor’s note.The Florida Department of Health, last month, changed the way it reports the number of deaths from COVID-19 to a method that misleads people into believe there's been a decline in deaths.The Orlando Utilities Commission is reminding customers to conserve water as an unprecedented surge in the coronavirus causes a shortage of liquid oxygen. Two weeks after making the request, the utility says customers are saving on water, but not enough.With Florida legislative committee meetings starting later this month in advance of the 2022 annual law-making session, the state Senate is not planning to limit public access as Florida continues battling the COVID-19 pandemic.The Carnival Cruise Line plans to require proof of vaccination for passengers when cruises resume from some Florida ports in November.Federal COVID rental assistance relief funds in Sarasota and Manatee County have been slow to reach residents in need.
  • CDC data shows Florida had more daily COVID deaths in August 2021 then during the previous pandemic peak of August 2020.COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers in Florida.A Venice chiropractor has signed more than 500 medical mask exemption forms for students in Sarasota, prompting the district to tighten its mandatory mask policy.Gov. DeSantis is appealing last week’s circuit court ruling striking down his executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates.Lee Health, Physicians Regional Healthcare System and Sarasota Memorial Hospital reported declines in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, Thursday, while NCH, Manatee Memorial and Lakewood Ranch Medical Center all reported COVID patient increases.A Lehigh Acres couple faces up to 30 years in prison on charges stemming from COVID relief funding fraud.
  • U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says his agency is ready to investigation Florida’s ban on masks in schools. The Governor’s executive order banning mask mandates in schools is being challenged in a lawsuit brought by parents. A judge begins hearing evidence in that case today (08/23).Sarasota School board members, Friday, adopted a school mask mandate for preK-8th grader students for 90 days.COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to inundate SWFL hospitals. Lee Health reported Friday that 819 COVID-19 patients have died throughout the system’s hospitals since the beginning of the pandemic.A state-run monoclonal antibody treatment clinic is open in Bonita Springs.Data shows that Florida’s decision to prematurely end federal unemployment benefits in June in order to get Floridians “back to work” didn’t work as intended, as unemployment has actually increased.Prominent Naples physician and LGBTQ advocate Dr. Clinton Potter died of COVID-19 last week at the age of 61.
  • Florida is worst in the nation when it comes to hospitalization rates of COVID-19 patients, including children. Florida also has the highest weekly total number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the country.Data reported by Johns Hopkins University finds that Florida now accounts for 22% of new weekly total cases nationwide and 25% of weekly reported deaths from the virus.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports, Florida is currently the only state in the nation with a quarter or more of all inpatient hospital beds being used to treat coronavirus patients.Lee Health and Sarasota Memorial Hospital both report new record-high numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.The strain of the COVID-19 patient surge is has hit medical resources to the point that ambulance services and fire departments in some parts of Florida are no longer able to respond to emergency calls as usual. Ambulances in Pinellas County are waiting up to an hour with patients still inside until a hospital bed opens up for them-That's time the ambulances are unavailable to respond to other calls.On Friday, a Leon County Circuit Court judge will hold a hearing in a lawsuit filed by parents challenging Gov. DeSantis’ executive order barring schools from imposing mask mandates. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is demanding a change in policy from Broward County School Officials after the school board voted earlier this week to impose a mandatory mask mandate for students.The Sarasota County School District is temporarily barring visitors from school campuses and suspending any student field trips amid the current surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. 143 students and staff members were absent the first day of school, Tuesday, due to COVID-19 infections.A University of Florida study finds that people who end up in a hospital for COVID-19 are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized in the future for additional health problems related to a COVID-19 complication.
  • 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.
  • Mask-wearing in Sarasota County District schools will be optional for the 2021-2022 school year. The Sarasota Herald Tribune reports, school board members voted unanimously, Tuesday, to adopt a new policy making it clear that mask wearing would be optional for students, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.