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Tag: Education

SCHOOL MASK OPT-OUT IS UPHELD AFTER TENSE EXCHANGE ON BOARD

On Sept. 7, the school board, district staff, health officials and the public sat together through another tense four-hour meeting. At least three hours were devoted to a discussion about masking children in the schools: Should the parental opt-out be changed to a full-on mask mandate with only a medical opt-out? Should the district go against Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent executive order protecting a parent’s right to decide about masks? In the end, the school board upheld the same mask mandate with a parental opt-out, to be revisited in two weeks. However, the vote was four members for and one...

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STUDENTS EXPLORE THE DEPTHS & BAY IN NEW FIU PROGRAMS

Inside Monroe County classrooms, students will take their learning beneath the depths as they explore the world’s only underwater research and education laboratory. Through data collected by Florida International University scientists, young learners will also interpret and analyze water quality data from Biscayne Bay, where excessive amounts of phosphorus and high water temperatures have led to massive fish kill. Interactive lessons and engaging activities have arrived inside Keys classrooms through FIU’s “Mission Inspire.” The Monroe County School District is the first to adopt and take part...

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MASK OPT-OUT GRANTED – SCHOOL BOARD REJECTS HEALTH DEPARTMENT ADVICE

On Aug. 24, after an almost four-hour school board meeting during which citizens passionately spoke both for and against the district’s current mask mandate — and after the county’s health department administrator abruptly announced that he no longer supports a parental opt-out — the board members unanimously voted to support its current policy: teachers, staff and children must wear masks, but parents can still sign a form to opt out. The vote is contrary to the stance of other South Florida school districts. Miami-Dade County has a mask mandate with no opt-out at all while Broward County...

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QUARANTINED VS ABSENT: HEALTH DEPARTMENT CANNOT SAY HOW MANY STUDENTS ARE QUARANTINED

There are currently 105 students infected with COVID-19 in the first three weeks of school. Students are being exposed, however. There are reports of up to 50 kids being sent home from a Keys elementary school on a single day after being exposed.  Yet, the Monroe County School District can’t say how many students are being sent home to self-isolate.  “As far as quarantine numbers are concerned, you have to get those from the health department,” said school district COVID-19 spokesperson Becky Herrin. “The health department is tracking those numbers. We just track how many students...

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MEET THE NEW KEY WEST HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL LARRY SCHMIEGE

This isn’t Larry Schmiegel’s first rodeo.  The new Key West High School principal may have come most recently from Poinciana Elementary School, but he’s no stranger to the “big kids” — nor the often bigger issues that often face high school students and staff. Schmiegel came to the Florida Keys in 2016 from New York state, where he earned two master’s degrees, a doctorate, and state certifications to be both principal and superintendent. “But I started as a high school teacher in New York and I loved it,” he said. “I left the classroom in 2006 to become a principal and administrator in...

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SCHOOL BOARD: SLUMP IN TEST SCORES WAS EXPECTED POST COVID

The state has released its 2020-21 school year standardized test scores, and they are down for all Monroe County grades, according to a presentation from Dave Murphy, executive director of assessment & accountability, at the school board meeting on Aug. 10.  “I would say that it’s down a little further than I would have liked it, relative to other counties,” Murphy said. However, pointed out that the dip was to be expected in such an unusual, unstandardized year. “Every single teacher, every single staff member in this district did their best last year,” he noted. “Everybody did their...

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MEET THE TEACHER: GET TO KNOW 5 NEW UPPER KEYS FACES

For the 2021-22 school year, the Upper Keys has fresh recruits to teach our public school students. We thought you’d like to meet a few of our new elementary school/middle school teachers. One educator has lived in our island chain for just two weeks; another, 15 years. And most have received their college degrees in Florida. Let’s give a hearty welcome to these new faces. BREE BAGWELL Reading Intervention Teacher, Plantation Key School Where did you get your degree?  University of Florida (Go Gators!). How long have you lived in the Keys? Three months. Why did you decide to become a...

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CONSTITUTION DAY CONTEST UNDERWAY

The Upper Keys League of Women Voters (UKLWV) announces the 2021 Constitution Day Contest for middle and high school students from Marathon north to the county line, including public, private, charter and home schooled students. The theme is how the constitution affects their daily life. In past years, the UKLWV sponsored an essay contest for Constitution Day. This year, UKLWV is giving the students an opportunity to be creative in more ways. There are two sets of prizes and two categories to choose from. For a written entry, you may submit an essay, story or poem. For a visual entry, you may...

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12 NEW TEACHERS WELCOMED TO STANLEY SWITLIK ELEMENTARY

By Anthony Guntert Stanley Switlik Elementary is welcoming a dozen new faces at the Middle Keys for the 2021-22 school year. They range from newly credentialed locals to transplants. If you see them at the grocery store, give them a Keys welcome. Miriam Hribar Miriam Hribar Class: Pre-K, 3-4 years old, Headstart TeacherHometown: I am from Argentina, but I’ve been a citizen since 2003. I’ve lived in Marathon since 2000.Degree from: bachelor’s in natural science, Argentina / master’s of education in TESOL, Miami SUASM-University of Turaloo (Puerto Rico)How long have you been in the Keys:...

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New Upper Keys Center brings educational opportunities for students and community

Roughly 100 community leaders stood on the second floor of the College of the Florida Keys new center in Key Largo on Thursday afternoon. With a glass of champagne raised, a toast made by President Jonathan Gueverra marked a new era of education and opportunities for students, employers and the Upper Keys community.  Once deemed a “higher education desert” for graduating students in Key Largo and Islamorada, Gueverra now calls the islands an “oasis” with the college’s state-of-the-art Upper Keys Center. Located not far from the Keys’ gateway at MM 106, bayside, the new center delivers...

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