Florida Makes a Big Decision on Schools Reopening

Education commissioner issues emergency order mandating all public schools open in August
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2020 6:03 AM CDT
Updated Jul 7, 2020 6:52 AM CDT
Fla. Education Chief: Schools Have to Re-open in August
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/smolaw11)

As Florida's coronavirus cases surge, the education commissioner there issued an emergency order Monday that mandated all public K-12 schools open in August. Per the Tallahassee Democrat, Richard Corcoran's order requires that all brick-and-mortar schools open for at least five days a week for each student. That rules out schools planning to set up a system where students work at home half the time and come to school the other half. "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 says, per the New York Post. The paper notes the decree came soon after President Trump tweeted Monday, "SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" Per WTXL, the order applies only to the fall semester for now.

Local health officials can override this edict if they deem it too unsafe in their area to open due to the coronavirus, but the leeway they'll actually have on that is murky. "Logically, I don't think they could say schools aren't safe if they are allowing people to be out in public," a state Department of Education rep says, per the Tallahassee Democrat, adding that if a school can't open, the department will work with it to further develop its remote learning procedure or "alternative options." For those schools continuing to offer remote learning in some capacity, those plans won't be able to be as lax as they were in the spring and will have to be approved by the state. School leaders are already pushing back, the Palm Beach Post reports. "It is up to each individual school district how it reopens in the fall," Robert Runcie, Broward County's schools superintendent, tweeted. (More Florida stories.)

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