Florida coronavirus: School reopening date uncertain

Coronavirus

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News) – All Florida schools are currently closed through at least May 1, but that still leaves about a month before the school year officially ends.

Florida Virtual School anticipates having the capacity to serve all 2.7 million Florida students by May 4.

During the transition to online learning, the state has purchased 32,000 laptops for rural school districts. Officials hope to reduce the number of students without access to the internet from 15 percent to just one percent.

“Vice President Pence recognized Florida as the leader in distance learning,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis said during an education roundtable on Thursday.

During that roundtable, a parent and Florida PTA representative said she’s been satisfied with online school, but noted it has not been easy.

“This is hard and I think that goes across the board with superintendents, teachers, principles,” Khanh-Lein Banko said.

What’s currently unclear is whether students will be able to return to their physical classrooms before the end of the school year.

The governor is taking a wait and see approach.

One option DeSantis proposed would be to allow districts to make that call themselves.

Bobby Pearce, superintendent of rural Wakulla County said in that scenario, he expects districts would defer to the advice of health officials.

“We’re going to look at the CDC, we’re going to talk with our local health department, we’re going to talk with the state surgeon general,” said Pearce.

The governor also mulled the possibility of letting parents decide whether to send their kids back to school.

“If they’re confident we’re on the other side of this and they’re confident that it can be safe, I think if they had that option, I think that they would choose to have them go back to school,” said DeSantis.

But Pearce is skeptical of that option, with many parents balancing work and kids at home.

“I think that at that point, we might be looking more at what’s convenient rather than what is prudent,” said Pearce.

Ultimately, the governor said his decision will be made with student safety as the number priority.

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