Gov. Ron DeSantis wants Florida's K-12 schools to reopen in the fall at "full capacity.”
Thursday, Gov. DeSantis announced state recommendations for a return to on-campus instruction in the upcoming school year, saying final plans for exactly if and how schools will reopen will be decided at a local level.
"We believe those are locally driven decisions," he said. "We believe what that looks like may look different in Brevard [County] than it does in Miami-Dade [County] than it does in Baker County, and so we want to empower not just the superintendents, but all the local stakeholders to be able to craft a solution that makes the most sense for that area."
The plan calls for opening campuses at full capacity at the start of the academic school year in adherence with guidelines and recommendations from state, local and national health officials.
According to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the plan provides health and instructional recommendations for reopening Florida’s schools, aligned to the executive direction of Gov. DeSantis, the Re-Open Florida Task Force’s Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"The message should be loud and clear. We are saying, with a strong recommendation to our great superintendents that we work with, we want schools fully opened in the fall because there is no better way to educate our kids than have that great teacher in front of that child," said Corcoran.
Corcoran also touted data showing that kids were at "extremely low-risk" for contracting or spreading COVID-19 and said that even more harm is done when children don't have that face-to-face learning experience.
Districts and schools are encouraged to coordinate with local health departments and medical experts, to establish their own, unique protocols for reopening schools.
Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna released the following statement after Gov. DeSantis' press conference:
“I believe this is the best of the options we could’ve hoped for. We are thankful for the governor and commissioner of education’s leadership and for giving school districts local autonomy to make the best decisions for their communities. Leon Schools will continue to work with the Leon Health Department to prepare for the reopening of our schools on August 10. We look forward to presenting our plans to the LCS Re-Open Schools Task Force beginning next week. Over the last month, our staff has met with parents, teachers, principals, health officials, college representatives, community leaders and others to gather input on these plans. The Task Force will present its final list of considerations to the School Board on Tuesday, June 30.”
Florida schools have relied on distance learning since mid-March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. August is the target month for schools to reopen.
You can read the full state plan and recommendations here. You can watch the full conference below:
This is a developing story. Stay with us for details.