Updates on mask mandates
Good news for ZooTampa
Gov. DeSantis considers reducing frequency of COVID-19 number reports
24-hour staffing cited as main reason
It is no secret that the daily reporting of COVID-19 cases around the state have kept everyone on their toes and been used in the decisions to create mask mandates and other safety protocols. Now, Gov. Ron DeSantis is wondering when to scale back the frequency of the reports, meaning that Floridians may not be seeing daily COVID numbers. There are no details about what the new frequency would be if the governor decides to release numbers less often, or when the decision will be made. The daily reports require 24 hour staffing, a key reason why the governor is considering releasing the reports less frequently.
Hillsborough continues face-mask mandate
Support is no longer unanimous for ruling
Hillsborough County is currently facing an increase in COVID-19 cases with about 180 new cases every day for the past two weeks. In an attempt to curb the spread, the commission of Hillsborough County voted to extend the rule making face masks mandatory inside businesses if social distancing is not possible. Residents and some commissioners are not in favor of the extension of the mandate, but local health officials are urging the continuation of using face coverings. Over 511,000 tests have been administered in the county.
ZooTampa ends fiscal year in the black
Cites loans, donations as reason for success
The pandemic has hit many entertainment venues hard, including theaters, theme parks, and zoos. ZooTampa, however, ended its fiscal year in the black – a resounding success despite trying financial times. The zoo was closed for three months, which meant a significant loss in revenue. ZooTampa made job cuts and applied for federal relief in the form of a Paycheck Protection Program loan, and cut expenses by $4 million. The zoo also received over 800 individual donations. After its reopening in May, the zoo brought back all of its furloughed staff, and the summer season ended better than the same time last year. The zoo has few indoor exhibits and no lines like the ones in amusement parks, which zoo officials credit as part of its success.
Sarasota County School Board votes to continue mask mandate
Meeting contained comments from over 50 citizens
The most recent Sarasota County School Board meeting was a little longer than usual. During the meeting, over 50 citizens made comments and a few who refused to wear face coverings were removed when discussing the current mask mandates in Sarasota schools and whether or not to continue such a mandate. The board voted 3-2 to continue the mandate until June 30, 2021, “unless extended or amended prior to that.” Two groups of parents gathered outside the meeting, protesting the mask mandate by saying it is not the best for their students. One group has hired an attorney to oppose the mask mandate in court.
Hillsborough County makes sweeping cuts in education
Parents, students, and teachers discuss plan at meeting
Hillsborough County’s school board also had a long meeting this week as parents, students, and teachers made comments on the board’s plan to eliminate or shuffle many teaching positions. The district faces a $72-million budget deficit, so they plan to cut 670 teaching jobs. 424 of the positions are already vacant. The district expects 60 temporary teachers to be cut, while 186 are being re-assigned. The educators do not know where or what they will be teaching when the second grading period begins. The plan also includes combining classes, moving teachers, or having them work at two different schools.