Florida’s education commissioner on Monday ordered schools to reopen for in-person instruction in August, even as coronavirus cases jam hospitals in the state.
According to an “emergency order” signed by Commissioner Richard Corcoran, public school districts and charter school boards must open all kindergarten through 12th-grade schools for at least five days a week. Although schools may also offer remote learning, parents must have the option to send their children to a brick and mortar school.
Florida shut down its schools on March 17 when there was an average of 69 new COVID-19 cases a day. On Saturday, Florida tallied a record 11,400 new cases in a single 24-hour period. Intensive care units at several hospitals were also at full capacity Monday.
The order will only apply to the fall semester and may change if the pandemic becomes even more severe. Local health officials can override the commissioner’s order as well and close schools in emergencies.
A statement from the Classroom Teachers Association accused Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) of pushing a political and economic agenda over the safety and well-being of students, teachers and school employees.
“While we know that face-to-face learning is optimal, CTA will not support a reopening plan that could expose students, teachers or their families to illness, hospitalization or death,” the organization stated. “Lost academic time and lessons can be made up ― a life cannot.”
To date, Florida has registered more than 206,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3,778 deaths.
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