HILLSBOROUGH CO., Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday encouraged students who are struggling with learning remotely to return to class for in-person learning.
Speaking at a press conference in Kissimmee, the governor announced Monday that Florida schools will remain open next semester.
Although distance learning will still be an option, students who are struggling with virtual learning may have to return for in-person instruction. DeSantis said parents will be notified by their school districts if their child is required to return for in-person learning unless the parent “affirmatively opts out.” Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran said the state is preparing for “massive interventions,” but it’s not clear what that means.
“The message is schools are open. If you see some place in California or Illinois or New York closing schools, just parents need to have a peace of mind, we’re going to be here for you in Florida,” DeSantis said. “We are not going to abandon your child. We’re not going to abandon you, and these school districts are not going to do that. We are still offering parents to make a choice. If they choose to do virtual, then they have the ability to opt for that.”
DeSantis said the state has looked at how countries in Europe have dealt with school closings and said the closures do little to curb the spread of the virus. He even went as far to call those who believe school should close today’s “flat Earthers.”
“I would say that closing schools due to coronavirus is probably the biggest public health blunder in modern American History. The fallout out in communities still chaffing under school closures, we have some of the biggest school districts in our country that still do not have in person instruction,” DeSantis said.
The governor’s announcement comes amid a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Florida reported 6,658 coronavirus cases Monday, and is expected to hit 1 million total cases this week.
“The parent should exercise common sense and be concerned about the welfare of their child,” said Jay Wolfson, professor of public health at USF. “If you’re in a high risk community or if you’re in a high risk population they need to be taking that into consideration.”
Returning to school next semester will look different for each school district. Superintendents have two weeks to submit their reopening plans to the state.
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