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Florida Schools To Remain Closed Through End of School Year

Florida schools will not reopen this school year, DeSantis announced Saturday
Florida schools will not reopen this school year, DeSantis announced Saturday

Public and private schools statewide will continue distance-learning through the end of the school year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Saturday.

At a press briefing in Tallahassee, the governor said he had considered the opinions of parents and teachers, and also looked at the timing of re-opening in May, with just weeks left in the school year.

“Or K-12 schools will continue with distance learning through the end of the school year,” DeSantis said.

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“We’ve got pretty good momentum for distance learning. It’s obviously not the ideal situation but given where we are in the school year we felt that was the best decision to go forward.”

On April 10, DeSantis said he was considering the possibility of opening some schools and would issue his decision later.

The Florida teacher’s union, at least four major medical groups and tens of thousands of parents and teachers expressed their opposition to the idea in major petitions on change.org and moveon.org.

A WUSF poll this week also found that the vast majority of respondents were against the idea of re-opening schools this year.

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“Today’s recommendation to continue distance learning, will give our students, their families, teachers and our school leaders the ability to maximize student learning, while ensuring everyone’s health and safety continues to be our first priority,” said Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran in a statement. 

“As students continue to excel in distance learning, we will continue to work with superintendents, school administrations, colleges, teachers, parents and students to implement best practices, resources and support systems to ensure positive educational outcomes for those most affected.”

All schools – traditional and charter – will be closed through May 29, as will school buildings, said Hillsborough County Schools spokeswoman Tanya Arja.

"All meal services for students will continue at school sites and through community routes," she said. 

In Pinellas County, superintendent Michael Grego said he agreed with DeSantis’ decision.

"The safety, health and well-being of our students, families, staff and community are of the utmost importance," Grego said in a statement.

"During the first three weeks of digital learning nearly 98 percent of our students engaged online. We are committed to continuously improve our supports for our staff, students and families with the ultimate goal of reaching 100 percent student participation."

Graduation plans for high school seniors are still being worked out at many area schools. 

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Kerry Sheridan is a reporter and co-host of All Things Considered at WUSF Public Media.