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Florida education commissioner extends teacher certification deadline

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Teachers with temporary or professional certificates that were scheduled to expire in the summer will now have until the end of 2020 to complete courses and certification exams, according to an emergency order issued by Florida’s Commissioner of Education.

Coronavirus impacts have been felt by the 180,442 teachers across the state as they made the abrupt shift to e-learning.

But thousands of teachers hoping to take the Florida Teacher Certification Exam were left wondering what to do as the expiration date of their required certification approached.

Since March 16 when the administering company, Pearson, closed its testing sites, 1,458 certification exams have been canceled.

That left the 42,768 potential teacher certification candidates that are registered between now and May 2021 wondering if they’d be able to continue their work.

The state began waiving the $130 fee in April, providing a voucher code of “FTCESpring2020” that will remain valid for up to a year after the date of the registration. So far, that fee waiver has saved teachers a collective $8 million.

The concern then became whether or not the initial one-month extension for those with expiring certifications would be enough.

But on Wednesday, an emergency order by Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran extended the deadline of certifications set to expire by June 30, to Dec. 31, 2020.

The need to accommodate the state’s educators may be more dire than ever, as Florida has been facing a teacher shortage for years.

In January, the Florida Education Association reported that more than 2,440 teaching positions remained open – a 10 percent increase in vacant positions from January 2019.

“We completely understand the concerns districts and teachers are sharing and are grateful to the districts and teachers that have shared the thoughts about the need for the July 31, 2020, deadline to be extended,” said Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Taryn Fenske.

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