Florida schools won't reopen this academic year due to coronavirus pandemic
Florida schools will remain closed throughout the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a press conference Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Florida school districts will continue with their distance learning models already in place.
He said the decision came after "consultation" with others. He said "there was a sense" that continuing with the distance learning models districts have already transitioned to is the best route.
"It's an easier decision for me to make knowing we've done so well with distance learning," he said.
He added that schools reopening May 4 posed a "logistical" problem when the school year ends a few weeks after.
He also said many parents may have chosen to keep their kids out of school, even if sites reopened to classroom instruction.
“Academically, would there be a huge benefit (to schools reopening)? I think not," DeSantis said.
He alluded to a "next phase" policy that would address helping school districts fulfill the "social" aspect that students are deprived of during social distancing.
The governor previously hinted the state would decide at a county-by-county level whether to reopen schools before the end of the academic year. At a Thursday, April 9 press conference DeSantis said state government officials "want" kids to be in school if it's safe.
But on Saturday, DeSantis sided with educators, who called on the governor to cancel school for the remainder of the year.
The governor's decision comes after multiple state agencies and organizations urged him to keep schools closed.
On Tuesday, the Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers' union, told DeSantis not to reopen schools this year.
FEA President Fedrick Ingram said in a Tuesday letter to the governor that COVID-19 presents a "threat we cannot control" and social distancing in the classroom would be impossible.
He said the "potential damage" of reopening schools far outweighed the benefits of reopening the sites, despite the "inevitable inequalities" in education that result from distance learning models.
In Leon County, Florida's capital county, Superintendent Rocky Hanna also has urged the governor to keep school sites closed.
Hanna posted a letter to DeSantis Wednesday and said reopening schools would pose a "serious threat" to a "significant number" of the teachers and staff who are considered to be in at-risk demographics for surviving the virus.
"With only 33 academic days remaining on the school calendar, it simply doesn't make sense and is not worth the risk," he wrote.
Contact CD Davidson-Hiers at CDavidsonH@Tallahassee.com, or follow her on Twitter @DavidsonHiers for news about education in Leon County and Florida.
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