Sun Sentinel extends deadline to nominate South Florida’s Top Workplaces

The South Florida Sun Sentinel is inviting the public to nominate the best employers in South Florida as Top Workplaces — and there’s still plenty of time to apply.

The deadline for final nominations has been extended from Oct. 30 to Dec. 11.

It is the seventh consecutive year that the news organization has recognized companies and nonprofit organizations in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties for their efforts to boost employee engagement, attract and retain top talent, and transform the workplace culture.

Any organization with 35 or more employees in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade is eligible to participate. That includes public, private, nonprofit and government entities.

Energage, the research partner for the project, evaluates workplaces using a 24-question survey filled out by employees. So far, more than 115 South Florida companies have signed up to take the Top Workplaces survey.

The results of the contest will be published in May.

For information and to enter nominations, participants may visit http://www.sunsentinel.com/nominate or call (954) 666-0786.

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©2020 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

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Florida’s falling lizards are getting used to cold winter temperatures

The lowest temperatures in a decade stunned and immobilized the lizards, causing them to lose their grip from their usually safe perches in trees.

Comatose lizards littering the sidewalk might have been annoying for residents. For scientists, however, it was a unique opportunity to understand how the lizards, many of which aren’t native to the region, are affected by extreme climate events. It turns out these reptiles are more adaptable to extreme temperatures than the researchers had thought, they said.

“When air temperatures drop below a critical limit, lizards lose the ability to move. Most commonly, the lowest daily temperatures occur at night while many diurnal (day-active) lizards are asleep,” lead study author and biologist James Stroud, a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University in St. Louis, told CNN.

“As many diurnal lizards typically sleep above the ground, perched safely in and among leaves and branches, they may lose their grip if temperatures drop below this critical functioning limit.”

The January cold snap wasn’t the first time Floridians have faced lizards dropping out of trees. It can happen anytime the temperature gets below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stroud and his collaborators in late January and early February collected 63 lizards from six different species around Miami, five of which were tropical species and not native to southern Florida.

The researchers took the lizards back to the lab at the University of Miami and individually cooled the animals until each one was too cold to respond to a gentle prod on its back limb.

“At this point, the lizard was removed from the cooler and the internal body temperature of the lizard was recorded as its lower temperature limit,” Stroud said.

“Lizards were then allowed to return to room temperature; every single lizard in this study recovered back to full health after just a few minutes.”

The team repeated this 10 weeks later to rule out a very quick, individual-level response.

National Weather Service warns of falling iguanas

The scientists were then able to compare the temperatures to earlier data they had gathered in 2016 for a study that forecasted how far north the non-native lizards could potentially disperse to from where they were first introduced in Miami, south Florida.

The lizard community, the researchers discovered, had responded in an unexpected way to the cold snap: All of them could withstand cold temperatures down to about 42 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of their previous ability to tolerate cold.

Central American brown basilisks (Basiliscus vittatus) are among the members of a lizard community that converged on a lower temperature tolerance after a cold snap in Miami.

“A major unexpected result of this study was that all species converged on the same new, lower level of thermal tolerance,” Stroud said.

“While there was great variation in temperature tolerance before the cold event — some, like the large-bodied brown basilisk, were very intolerant of low temperatures, while others like the Puerto Rican crested anole were more robust — we observed that all species could now tolerate, on average, the same lowest temperature.”

Stroud said from this study, which published Tuesday in the journal Biology Letters, it wasn’t clear whether the lizards were adapting to the lower temperatures in a way

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Florida’s schools shouldn’t shut down because of COVID-19 infections, Gov. DeSantis says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Closing schools for months at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic was a mistake that won’t be repeated, and only students who develop symptoms should be isolated, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday.

During a visit to a charter school in Jacksonville, the governor said over 60% of the state’s 2.8 million students in pre-K to 12th grade are getting in-person instruction, and it’s an increasingly popular option because infection risks are low.

“Going forward, whatever the future may hold, school closures should be off the table,” DeSantis said. “They don’t do anything to mitigate COVID, but they do cause catastrophic damage to the physical, mental and social well being of our youth. Let’s not repeat any mistakes of the past.”

The governor said that after two months of most schools in the state being open, there have not been major outbreaks or causes of concern about the virus spreading among students.

“It’s obviously even more clear now that schools are not drivers of spreading coronavirus, and schools need to be open,” he said. “It is a bad public health policy to have schools closed.”

When asked about schools that have had cases of infected students, DeSantis said it doesn’t make sense to force their classmates to quarantine for two weeks unless they are having virus symptoms.

“You should not be quarantining healthy students,” he said, adding that schools shouldn’t “throw in the towel” and close because of a few sick kids.

Joined by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, DeSantis did not mention statewide teacher union opposition to school openings, amid concerns about risks to faculty members.

“Now pretty much everyone acknowledges that having schools open is the right thing to do,” he said.

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©2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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