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Florida orders schools to reopen in the fall — and districts are already leaning toward no


An interesting move

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida's education commissioner has ordered all schools to open full-time come August.

What are the details?

Richard Corcoran, the state's commissioner for the Department of Education, issued an emergency order Monday mandating all "brick and mortar schools" to reopen in August at a rate of "at least five days per week for all students."

"Upon reopening in August, all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students, subject to advice and orders of the Florida Department of Health, local departments of health, Executive Order 20-149 and subsequent executive orders," a portion of the order stated.

Under Corcoran's order, schools will be required to reopen to "ensure the quality and continuity of the educational process, the comprehensive wellbeing of students and families, and a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride."

Districts across the state will be required to submit individualized reopening plans and be supportive of students and adults with underlying conditions that could make them vulnerable to COVID-19.

The order is temporary, applying only to the fall 2020 semester.

At the time of this writing, researchers at Johns Hopkins University estimate that Florida ranks third in highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, with 213,773 cases.

What else?

The Orange County Classroom Teachers Association blasted the move in a statement this week.

"The Governor and Secretary are pushing a political and economic agenda over the safety and well-being of students, teachers, and school employees," the organization told CNN. "While we know that face-to-face learning is optimal, CTA will not support a reopening plan that could expose students, teachers, or their families to illness, hospitalization, or death."

United Teachers of Dade — of Miami-Dade County — also said that schools in the county are unlikely to reopen due to the surge in coronavirus classes and will, instead, opt for virtual learning.

E. David Freeland, president of the Education Association of St. Lucie County, Florida, added, "We realize there's no way to have a perfect plan, but we should at least meet the guidelines of declining numbers."

On Tuesday, Robert Runcie, Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, said that district students will not be required to attend schools in person come the fall semester.

"We do not see a realistic path," he explained. "We will never compromise the health and safety of our students, teachers and staff."

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, "Districts are allowed to develop 'innovative alternatives' to classes in 'brick and mortar' schools."

"'[P]arents who seek a return to a typical school week on campus must have that option when schools restart next month,' said Jacob Oliva, chancellor of K-12 education at the Florida Department of Education, in a video call Monday with local school officials to explain the new order," the outlet reported.

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