Here’s the 5 Things You Need to Know for this Friday:
1. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and Gov. Ron DeSantis have a strong message for school superintendents around the state: open public schools this fall.
Corcoran stressed that the best way to educate our kids than have a great teacher in front of that child, and that age group is “extremely low risk” for contracting and spreading COVID-19.
DeSantis laid out an aggressive plan to fight any achievement gap that the COVID closure and summer may combine for, in order to reach a 90 percent literacy rate in Florida. He plans to use hundreds of millions of dollars in federal CARES Act funds on things like summer reading programs, 2,000 reading coaches and regional support teams, early learning programs, costs for day cares that stayed open and incurred costs to retrofit and sanitize their day care areas, transition to kindergarten programs, career and technical training curriculums and a number of free ACT and SAT tests for the Class of 2021.
DeSantis also made a point to thank parents over the last two months of the school year who “juggled a lot of things” to make remote learning work.
The state has issued a comprehensive guide to reopening schools and how to use monetary resources to do so.
2. The SpaceX launch got moved to Saturday, so set your weekend alarm if you want to see it!
The Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Saturday morning at 5:21 a.m. It’s set to send another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit for the ninth time, before the booster rockets return to the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” eight minutes later.
The weather is expected to be 80 percent favorable for launch, with high clouds around the launch pad the only hindrance.
SpaceX sent two astronauts to the International Space Station in the Crew Dragon orbiter, and sent more satellites up last week. The Falcon 9 will stay busy: Another Starlink mission is scheduled on June 22, followed by an all-important launch of an Air Force’s global positioning satellite on June 30.
3. Sea World reopened Thursday – to some rave reviews.
Guests had their temperatures check, wore face coverings and were spaced out six feet apart at shows and on rides. But other than that it was a normal theme park day. What made it abnormal was that it opened for the first time in over 10 weeks.
The park operated at 30 percent of maximum capacity, enforced by reservations and tickets purchased online.
Guests exited shows by sections in order to maintain CDC guidelines in social distancing. Rides like Mako, Manta and Kraken flew through the air with riders in every-other row or car.
For the rest of the month, SeaWorld will be closed Tuesdays and Thursdays for sanitizing. Tomorrow check out our review of the re-opened Aquatica water park. Actually, come meet us out there! Just remember to make your online reservation at Aquatica.com.
4. COVID-19 cases are spiking, but there have been no new fatalities in Osceola or Orange counties in days.
With the Sea World parks re-opening Thursday, temperature checks, social distancing and other precautions against the COVID-19 virus are increasingly important as the number of new cases reported by the Florida Department of Health continues to rise.
Another 1,638 new cases, the highest daily number since the virus surfaced in March, were reported, including 15 in Osceola, where the tally’s now up to 785. In Orange County, where the SeaWorld parks re-opened, 156 new cases were reported, repeating a high from the area’s peak in early April. But despite all those new cases in the area, no new deaths were reported in Osceola and Orange counties. Or Seminole, Volusia, Brevard or Lake, for that matter.
Even with an uptick in cases this week, the percent of positive tests in Osceola County returned has been around 3 percent daily, with an average of about 300 tests counted per day.
5. Today is the 4th anniversary of the Pulse night club shooting.
In a world with so many widespread issues filling our minds and news feeds right now, it might be hard to remember today is the fourth anniversary of one of the worst days in our area’s history.
The Pulse Nightclub tragedy took place early in the morning of June 12, 2016, when 49 club goers were tragically killed and dozens more were injured in what was, for about a year, the deadliest mass shooting in American history. It kicked off a wave of memorials in Central Florida around the country, including at an Osceola Parkway hair salon, where two of the victims worked.
At least today’s weather will be pretty sunny. Drier air means it won’t be so muggy here on Friday. It will just be hot, with just a 30 percent change of rain, partly cloudy skies, and a high right around 90. There’s a slight chance of showers tonight as we head down to the low to mid 70s. Expect more humidity over the weekend, but have a great one anyway and we’ll see you on Monday morning.