Florida Schools Ordered to Reopen

Florida Schools Ordered to Reopen

By Ana Ceballos, The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday ordered public schools to reopen in August and offer “the full panoply of services” to students and families. 

As COVID-19 outbreaks spike in Florida, Corcoran’s mandate said that extending school closures can impede students’ educational success and prevent parents and guardians from returning to work.

“There is a need to open schools fully to ensure the quality and continuity of the educational process, the comprehensive well-being of students and families and a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride,” the order states.

Under the emergency order, all public schools will be required to reopen in August for at least five days a week and to provide the full array of services required by law, including in-person instruction and services for students with special needs. 

“Required services must be provided to students from low-income families, students of migrant workers, students who are homeless, students with disabilities, students in foster care, students who are English-language learners, and other vulnerable populations,” the order says.

Corcoran’s order also instructs school districts to follow the advice of state and local health officials as well as executive orders issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

The Republican governor and Corcoran, a former Florida House speaker, have been determined to reopen public schools at full capacity next month, even as state health officials have reported a minimum of 5,000 new COVID-19 cases in each of the last 13 days.

Teachers, however, are concerned about their safety, according to Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram.

“It’s clear in communications with our members that educators are scared. They don’t trust politicians to make sure things are safe — rightly so, with the record-breaking number of cases being reported,” Ingram told the News Service of Florida in an email Monday. “The governor is trying to brush that off.”

Ingram, who heads the state’s top teachers’ union, said students and school employees “need to be at the center of our conversations about reopening schools.”

Department of Education spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said in an email last week that the state has a “moral imperative to do our absolute best to return our schools to full operation by August.”

“Our children’s education, the comprehensive health of our families — mental health and stability in homes — and our economy are all depending on us to make every effort to reopen our school campuses,” she wrote.

Fenske, however, would not say if specific metrics about COVID-19 cases would prompt the education department to backtrack on the school reopening plans. 

Under the order issued Monday, school districts and charter-school governing boards are required to submit reopening plans to the Department of Education showing how all schools plan to fully reopen and offer all services to students.

The plans need to include the percentage of students in the district who are projected to continue with distance learning, which schools began using following a statewide shutdown in March.

The order also requires districts to disclose efforts to address achievement gaps and monitor students’ progress. 

Corcoran’s order acknowledged that some students may continue to learn from home.

“Although it is anticipated that most students will return to full-time brick and mortar schools, some parents will continue their child’s education through innovative learning environments, often due to the medical vulnerability of the child or another family member who resides in the same household,” the order says.

Because enrollment numbers could impact per-student funding for public schools, the order says that school districts and charter school governing boards with approved reopening plans will be offered “reporting flexibility” to ensure their funds are not interrupted during the 2020 fall semester. 

For example, students who learn in an “innovative learning environment” during the fall semester would be able to receive a full-time enrollment credit.

Monday’s mandate also waives “strict compliance” with a Florida law requiring schools to operate for at least 180 days, “to the extent necessary to give effect to this order.” And the order waives a state law requiring “school districts to have a uniform and fixed date for the opening and closing of schools.”

13 Responses to "Florida Schools Ordered to Reopen"

  1. Avatar
    Snidely Whiplash   July 7, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    This will not be understood by many (Rocky and his minions and local leftists) but this is what leadership looks like.
    Thanks Commissioner C.

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Curious   July 7, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    Teachers, as all workers, are replaceable. Lotsa folks need work.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      JJ Slazenger   July 7, 2020 at 11:50 pm

      Yeah, you are so right about that since like everyone has a teaching certificate out there in the unemployment pool…

      Pretty easy options out there folks. Send your kids to schools with measures in place to protect them or do the virtual route which will not be impromptu this time around.

      Reply
  3. Avatar
    DeepStateProvocateur   July 7, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    In all likelyhood, this is a calculated decision by Gov Death Sentence so that in twelve weeks, he will be able to proudly proclaim that the average age of COVID cases is down to 16, which must mean something good about the way he has ‘handled’ the pandemic. In a panoply of idiotic decisions he has made, this is the dumbest so far, which is really saying something. I mean, we are going to close bars, but open schools? Does this idiot really think kids are going to social distance?

    I already know of two teachers who have quit before throwing themselves into a cauldron of kids, and I would be shocked if they were the only ones. Even the Trump sycophantic governor in Texas has come around to mandating masks, with Arizona not far behind, but our cowardly Governor is too squishy to even to try that.

    I mean, we already were known as the residence of FloridaMan, do we really need to go out and keep proving it again and again and again?

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Gerald Brothers   July 7, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    We cannot afford to leave our economy closed. We would pay heavily for not keeping our children learning and growing. The world is a dangerous place in thousands of ways.

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    Gozo, Paz y Amor   July 7, 2020 at 11:04 pm

    It grieves me that far too many denizens of this forum filter every government decision through the lens of their own political persuasion. Responses here are generally emotionally charged with left or right leaning dogma that bears little if any semblance to sound reasoning. I believe many are so deluded by their political ideology that they are convinced that their opinions are not only right, but they set out to proselytize the undiscerning and attempt to silence and demonize any opposition with ad hominem onslaughts.

    Any rational individual must at some point conclude that children need to return to the classroom. To those who are vehemently opposed to such a notion, when should traditional school commence? When the curve is flattened? When the mortality rate drops precipitously perhaps? Earnest followers of the science rather than the politics of virus must by now recognize that it is time to be about the business of living rather than cowering in fear anticipating something worse to befall us.

    Delaying our students’ return to the classroom will not benefit most children. As mentioned in an earlier post, reported domestic abuse cases have risen significantly since the lockdowns, and just imagine the number of cases that have gone undetected. A staggering number of abuse and neglect cases are discovered yearly within school systems throughout the state. Moreover, school systems provide access to health care and social services to families who would otherwise be without means. Additionally, there are scores of families who rely on the school system to provided nutritious meals to their children daily. Schools are tasked with far more than merely educating our children, and whether they should be assigned such duties is beyond the scope of this post.

    I am pleased that Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran have enough intestinal fortitude to make tough decisions. I am an educator, and I look forward to once again joining my students in the classroom. For those educators who are unsettled by the notion of returning to the classroom and would rather renounce their positions, I believe resigning would be in the best interest of all concerned, especially the students. Many children and their parents will be nervous and skeptical about the reopening of schools, and I dare say they will need teachers and officials who are dauntless and able to reassure rather than cower with them. Call me dauntless and dedicated. I am ready.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      DeepStateProvocateur   July 8, 2020 at 7:36 am

      > To those who are vehemently opposed to such a notion, when should traditional school commence?

      When children have been vaccinated? When we have evidence that community spread is not ongoing and growing? When none of our hospitals are forced to plan for what they will do when a surge arrives? When everyone will actually wear a mask?

      You act as if there were not already guidelines in place for re-opening; the most basic of which was ’14 days of decreased cases’, but we couldn’t even manage that! It’s like you’ve thrown your hands in the air, declared that we have tried nothing and are all out of ideas, so we might as well throw any remaining caution to the wind because everyone is just oh too political.

      > When the curve is flattened? When the mortality rate drops precipitously perhaps?

      Those would be good metrics to start with, and we aren’t anywhere close to that. I mean, I would have a modicum of respect for DeSantis if he had the ‘intestinal fortitude’ to say, ‘I am OK with hospitals added surge capacity and three hundred dead Floridians a day if it means our economy hits its full stride’, but he doesn’t say that. He just says a bunch of monkey muffins de-jour. “It’s young people” (as if they exist in a bubble). “It’s farm workers” (speaks well to his base who could care less if Brown people get sick) “It’s stabilized” (Unable to read a graph, or grasp the concept of exponential growth, apparently)

      As an aside, the ability to convert rooms to ICUs is rather meaningless if we don’t have qualified staff to attend to the patients; respiratory techs and ICU nurses don’t grow on trees. Earlier in this thread a critical thinker recommended teachers who are afraid simply be replaced, as if a quality teacher is as replaceable as a person taking orders at Wendy’s.

      > Earnest followers of the science rather than the politics of virus must by now recognize that it is time to be about the business of living rather than cowering in fear anticipating something worse to befall us.

      LOL. Something worse *will* befall us if we ignore the straightforward mathematics of exponential spread. We saw the videos from Italy, we saw morgue trucks outside of NY hospitals, and yes, that is something worse that will befall us. It is waiting in the wings and this decision is nothing less than speeding right toward it.

      > Schools are tasked with far more than merely educating our children, and whether they should be assigned such duties is beyond the scope of this post.

      Indeed. *It just so happens*, the same political stripe that thinks masks don’t work, think covid is ‘just the flu’, and that 99% of cases are ‘harmless’ are the same ones who bristle at the notion of social system changes that might address this sad fact. What a crazy coincidence!

      > Many children and their parents will be nervous and skeptical about the reopening of schools, and I dare say they will need teachers and officials who are dauntless and able to reassure rather than cower with them.

      Well, the good news is that basic virology tells us that dauntlessness is preventative from viral infection, so yeah, that will be an important facet to moving forward. Good point.

      > Call me dauntless and dedicated.

      LOL

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Gozo, Paz y Amor   July 9, 2020 at 6:04 pm

        If one wishes to engage in earnest dialogue and be taken seriously, perhaps refraining from juvenile inserts such as lots of laughs would be a beginning. Even my students know this.

        Reply
        • Avatar
          DeepStateProvocateur   July 10, 2020 at 9:18 am

          > To those who are vehemently opposed to such a notion, when should traditional school commence?

          When children have been vaccinated? When we have evidence that community spread is not ongoing and growing? When none of our hospitals are forced to plan for what they will do when a surge arrives? When everyone will actually wear a mask?

          You act as if there were not already guidelines in place for re-opening; the most basic of which was ’14 days of decreased cases’, but we couldn’t even manage that! It’s like you’ve thrown your hands in the air, declared that we have tried nothing and are all out of ideas, so we might as well throw any remaining caution to the wind because everyone is just oh too political.

          > When the curve is flattened? When the mortality rate drops precipitously perhaps?

          Those would be good metrics to start with, and we aren’t anywhere close to that. I mean, I would have a modicum of respect for DeSantis if he had the ‘intestinal fortitude’ to say, ‘I am OK with hospitals added surge capacity and three hundred dead Floridians a day if it means our economy hits its full stride’, but he doesn’t say that. He just says a bunch of monkey muffins de-jour. “It’s young people” (as if they exist in a bubble). “It’s farm workers” (speaks well to his base who could care less if Brown people get sick) “It’s stabilized” (Unable to read a graph, or grasp the concept of exponential growth, apparently)

          As an aside, the ability to convert rooms to ICUs is rather meaningless if we don’t have qualified staff to attend to the patients; respiratory techs and ICU nurses don’t grow on trees. Earlier in this thread a critical thinker recommended teachers who are afraid simply be replaced, as if a quality teacher is as replaceable as a person taking orders at Wendy’s.

          > Earnest followers of the science rather than the politics of virus must by now recognize that it is time to be about the business of living rather than cowering in fear anticipating something worse to befall us.

          OK. Something worse *will* befall us if we ignore the straightforward mathematics of exponential spread. We saw the videos from Italy, we saw morgue trucks outside of NY hospitals, and yes, that is something worse that will befall us. It is waiting in the wings and this decision is nothing less than speeding right toward it.

          > Schools are tasked with far more than merely educating our children, and whether they should be assigned such duties is beyond the scope of this post.

          Indeed. *It just so happens*, the same political stripe that thinks masks don’t work, think covid is ‘just the flu’, and that 99% of cases are ‘harmless’ are the same ones who bristle at the notion of social system changes that might address this sad fact. What a crazy coincidence!

          > Many children and their parents will be nervous and skeptical about the reopening of schools, and I dare say they will need teachers and officials who are dauntless and able to reassure rather than cower with them.

          Well, the good news is that basic virology tells us that dauntlessness is preventative from viral infection, so yeah, that will be an important facet to moving forward. Good point.

          > Call me dauntless and dedicated.

          OK.

          Reply
  6. Avatar
    Lena   July 8, 2020 at 12:11 am

    It will last a few weeks. There will be widespread outbreaks and schools will close again.

    Vote for sanity next time.

    Vote for the Democrats who could manage this situation better.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      TONY   July 8, 2020 at 8:01 am

      There is no such thing as “Democrats who could manage this situation better”.

      Reply
  7. Avatar
    NurseJoe   July 9, 2020 at 1:46 am

    Over 200% increase in coronavirus admissions @ TMH in the last 10 days. We got it under control. Duhsantis says it’s OK. When kids start getting sick and parents and teachers are hospitalized or dying then maybe people will notice. I’m a parent of high schoolers and hope that our school districts have a plan to keep our kids safe..haven’t seen one yet..it seems to be “let’s hope for the best”

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Gozo, Paz y Amor   July 9, 2020 at 5:50 pm

      What is your source “Over 200% increase in coronavirus admissions @ TMH”? I would like to verity your data.

      Reply

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