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September 17, 2021

Governor Ron DeSantis is pushing back on employee vaccine mandates put in place recently by both the federal and local governments. DeSantis calls them illegal. He also says the mandates will make worker shortages in areas like healthcare worse. Regan McCarthy has more on that story.

Vaccinating teachers and cutting class sizes in half would go a long way toward curbing the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Those are the findings of a new study from the University of Miami. WLRN education reporter Jessica Bakeman recently spoke with the study's author, Daniel Messinger [MESS-ing-urr]. He explains how his research in PRESCHOOL classrooms offers more scientific evidence supporting vaccine requirements and physical distancing policies in schools. Messinger’s [MESS-ing-urr’s] research has been submitted for publication and is not yet peer reviewed.

How Florida assesses K-12 students’ academic progress may be changing. Governor Ron DeSantis wants to get rid of most of the state’s standardized tests, called Florida Standards Assessments, or FSA. Robbie Gaffney reports the state instead, would rely on progress monitoring.

Public corruption — though rare — has been making Florida headlines lately. A state legislative “ghost” candidate in South Florida recently pleaded guilty to criminal charges after accepting money to put his name on the ballot without seriously running for office. In Tallahassee, former City Commissioner Scott Maddox and his girlfriend, the former head of the city's downtown improvement authority, Paige Carter-Smith, were recently sentenced to five years and two years in federal prison respectively for orchestrating a bribery scheme. Their associate J-T Burnette was recently convicted after a week-long trial. Integrity Florida’s, Ben Wilcox, studies public corruption at state and local levels. Valerie Crowder sat down with Wilcox to get his take on the corruption scandal in Tallahassee.

You may have heard about how manatees in Florida are dying at an unprecedented rate. So far this year, at least 942 manatees have died – a loss representing 10% of the animal’s population in the state. WMFE’s Amy Green reports the setback comes four years after the manatee was declared on its way to recovery – and downlisted from endangered to threatened.

Tallahassee's Sabal Palm Elementary School is hosting "Curls For Queens" tomorrow. The hair care and styling event for Black and Brown girls is an outgrowth of the school's focus on community needs. Chelsea Long reports last year the school partnered with a local technical college to offer haircuts for boys. And this year, the focus is on boosting the esteem of young Black girls.