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Florida directive says schools must reopen in August

July 7, 2020
Mandate from state education commissioner comes as a spike in Covid-19 cases raises questions about the safety of resuming in-person classes.

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has ordered public schools in the state to reopen in August and offer “the full panoply of services” to students and families.

The Miami Herald reports that under the emergency order, all public schools will be required to reopen in August for at least five days a week and to provide the full array of services required by law, including in-person instruction and services for students with special needs.

The directive comes as Covid-19 cases are increasing in Florida.

“Required services must be provided to students from low-income families, students of migrant workers, students who are homeless, students with disabilities, students in foster care, students who are English-language learners, and other vulnerable populations,” the order says.

It’s unclear how the top-down order will affect Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ reopening plan.

The Miami-Dade School Board approved a plan last week that calls for a mix of in-person, online and hybrid courses. Parents are being asked whether they want their child to be taught in school, through online courses or a mixture of both.

The state order allows students to continue with distance learning, but it requires school districts to report the projected percentage of students who will continue with distance learning.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Corcoran have been determined to reopen public schools at full capacity next month, even as state health officials have reported a minimum of 5,000 new Covid-19 cases in each of the last 13 days.

Teachers are concerned about their safety, according to Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram.

“It’s clear in communications with our members that educators are scared," Ingram says. "They don’t trust politicians to make sure things are safe.”

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