Florida schools are set to continue both in-person and virtual learning options in Spring 2021, according to an announcement from Gov. Ron DeSantis, echoing calls from Dr. Anthony Fauci and others to keep schools open.
DeSantis, who has pushed hard to reopen Florida throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, said in a press conference on Monday that closing schools due to COVID concerns “is probably the biggest public health blunder in modern American history.”
He said schools will stay open for in-person learning in the spring, and the option for parents to choose distance learning will stay intact.
The Florida Department of Education also issued Emergency Order 2020-07 on Monday, maintaining the ability for parents to choose whether their children will learn in person or remotely.
In Leon County, parents had the option to choose in-person or remote learning for Fall 2020. Following DeSantis’ announcement, Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna expressed support for keeping both options available in Spring 2021.
Hanna said he is grateful for the flexibility to allow students to safely attend in-person classes while keeping the option open for some students to choose distance learning, according to WCTV.
In recent days, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top White House COVID-19 advisor, has also expressed support for keeping schools open.
According to Business Insider, in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Fauci said to “close the bars and keep the schools open.”
“The default position should be to try, as best as possible within reason, to keep the children in school or to get them back to school,” he said.
“If you look at the data, the spread among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected,” he added.
In Leon County Schools, COVID numbers have been low, according to Hanna. He said the low case rate is due to tight COVID protocols, which the district plans to maintain going into the spring semester. Leon County as a whole has recently seen a decrease in COVID cases and hospitalizations and an increased testing positivity rate.
Statewide, Florida reached one million COVID cases on Tuesday. Looking ahead, DeSantis said even as cases rise, there will be no more COVID-related school closures, lockdowns or mandates and that further restrictions are “totally off the table.”