The Point, Oct. 8, 2021: Florida Department of Education pursues more penalties against Alachua County over masks


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The stories near you

• News Service of Florida: Florida is targeting Alachua County and seven other school districts over mask requirements. “The crackdown intensified the battle over whether school districts can set student mask requirements, a debate that is also playing out in courts. Board members backed a recommendation by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to financially penalize school boards in Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Duval, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties.”

• Gatorsports: UF planning upgrades to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium by June 2024. “Construction won’t begin until the start of the 2022 season, starting with upgrades to the scoreboard and sound system, which are expected to be completed by July 31, 2023, according to the project documents. Less than a month later, UF expects to begin construction on the renovations to the seating bowl, south end zone, and the concourses, with the project expected to conclude August 2, 2024.”

• WUFT News: In the wake of the Archer solar controversy, Alachua County commissioners vote to buffer future facilities. “The Alachua County Board of County Commission has voted to no longer exempt solar utility facilities from a 30% tree canopy coverage requirement and to mandate that they provide a buffer of 75 to 150 feet of coverage next to a residential area.”

• Miami Herald ($): Legislators dispute claim that they are intentionally shielding redistricting data. “Two University of Florida political science professors who were involved in helping uncover the Florida Legislature’s redistricting scandal a decade ago are accusing Republican leaders this time of using outside contracts to intentionally shield redistricting data and mapping details from the public.”

• WUFT News: A 195-acre nature preserve in Alachua County will open to the public in 2022. “Before a volunteer crew joined forces Saturday morning to clean up a plot of land dubbed ‘Little Awesome Preserve,’ it was littered with metal cans, car parts, vintage coke bottles and a deer skull.”

• Programming note: The Point will be on fall hiatus for a week. It is scheduled to return Oct. 19. Thank you for your support and readership.

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Around the state

• Florida Politics: Florida had nation’s worst COVID-19 death rate during summer surge. “More people were reported to have died in Florida since June 20 than in any other state — more than Texas, California, or Arizona. Even when Florida’s large population is factored in, Florida’s per-capita death rate was worse than all other states’, including smaller Southern states that suffered harsh summer surges, such as Louisiana and Arkansas.”

• Sun Sentinel ($): Nikki Fried releases school mask information that she says shows mandates work. “The information she directed her department to compile, Fried said at a Thursday morning news briefing, shows that during the peak of the delta wave, requiring masks in schools protected children: There were 3½ times more student COVID-19 cases per capita in school districts without mask requirements than school districts requiring masks, she said.”

• Spectrum News: Florida submits 342-page plan for final $2.3 billion in school relief. “The 342-page plan was submitted two days after the U.S. Department of Education asked why Florida was the only state in the nation that hadn’t submitted its proposal for the third phase of coronavirus relief money.”

• WUFT News: Florida wildlife commission votes to lift 30-year ban on goliath grouper harvesting. “Goliath groupers, which are predominately found off the southeastern coast of the United States, can reach up to 8 feet in length and can weigh up to 800 pounds. The ban on catching goliath grouper was instated in 1990, when the population reached threateningly low numbers due to overfishing and habitat destruction. For the past three decades, the species had been protected by the state of Florida until Wednesday’s vote reversed the conservation effort.”

• Bradenton Herald ($): Will Piney Point deep well aid site closure? Residents learn more about the process. “Staff with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Manatee County explained how the technology would pump contaminated water from the former phosphate processing plant 2,000 feet underground in order to prevent another spill.”

• WFSU: What Is Blueprint? The intergovernmental agency finds itself in public crosshairs after controversial votes on stadium projects. “The board recently voted to give Florida State University $20 million for Doak Campbell Stadium repairs. … A slew of public comments during the recent FSU vote questioned whether that money is in alignment with Blueprint’s mission.”

From NPR News

• Health: Faced with losing their jobs, even the most hesitant are getting vaccinated

• Health: Pfizer officially asks the FDA to authorize its COVID vaccine for kids aged 5-11

• National: We need to talk about your gas stove, your health and climate change

• Politics: The Senate votes for a short-term increase in the federal debt ceiling

• World: A more moderate Taliban? An Afghan journalist says nothing has changed

• World: Newly arrived Afghans test a refugee resettlement system that’s rebuilding on the fly

• Science: Researchers found a new species of water bear fossilized in a hunk of ancient amber

About today’s curator

I’m Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I’ve found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today’s edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to

About WUFT News

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news

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