Start dates loom for schools implementing new safety laws


Students in 19 districts go back to school on Aug. 10, according to the Florida Department of Education.

Brevard County is among those school districts resuming operation then. But, as reported by Florida Today, the district does not expect to have the necessary amount of school safety officers in all of its elementary schools at that time.

“Do I believe we’ll be ready to start the school year? Absolutely not. We will not be ready,” Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey told Today.

Following the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 dead, the Legislature rapidly passed a school safety package that, among other things, requires all schools to have an armed person on campus. Brevard, like many other districts, already had school security guards in place at middle and high schools.

But the sheriff does not anticipate having newly trained personnel in place in elementary schools by the Aug. 10 start date.

Dozens of other school districts begin on Aug. 13. Pinellas County, among the districts starting then, is considering hundreds of applicants for a school security guard position, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“An itinerary for the next month shows an array of activities: 96 hours of gun practice, 24 hours of defensive tactics lessons, 16 hours of active assailant training and a few more odds and ends,” reported Kathryn Varn for the Times.

Unlike the situation in Brevard County, however, there is no talk of possibly not staffing each school by the start date.

Miami-Dade County, which is the largest district with some 350,000 students, and Hamilton County, which is one of the smallest with fewer than 1,700 students, will both open on Aug. 20, the latest date to start the new school year.

Both of those districts will end their academic years on June 6, the latest date to conclude the year. In general, school, districts that start classes early will also release students earlier in the spring.

Sixteen districts will conclude their school years on May 24, ahead of the May 27 Memorial Day holiday. Teachers will return to their classrooms ahead of the students, with teachers in Bay, Calhoun, Holmes and Madison counties set to return on Aug. 1, the earliest return date for teachers.

Florida schools, which generally operate on a 180-day school year, are projected to serve nearly 2.85 million students in the new academic year.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this article.

Staff Reports


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