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State to offer flexible VPK options to parents, including virtual component

Posted at 6:35 AM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 07:19:37-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Families will soon have more flexible options in Florida’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program.

VPK is a free program that helps children get ready for kindergarten. With lower enrollment during the pandemic, some education experts fear this means more children won’t be prepared for kindergarten.

There hasn’t been a virtual option authorized by the Department of Education until now.

The Florida Department of Education and the Office of Early Learning announced they’re offering parents more flexibility through the end of December 2020 for approved VPK private providers. That means offering a virtual option for VPK students.

Friday is the last day for VPK providers to take a webinar to help them develop and submit a plan for the 2020/2021 school year that would include this flexibility.

The Office of Early Learning says this new flexibility will ensure that choices for VPK parents will be similar to choices the school districts have in their reopening plans.

The state says this online component is an added feature to in-person instruction.

Education leaders say this virtual option will help parents begin to feel more comfortable and eventually encourage them to shift to in-person learning.

It will also allow parents to start to rejoin the workforce.

ABC Action News spoke to a VPK provider in Hillsborough County who said this is all brand new to them and they’re now rushing to figure out how to incorporate online learning into their plans to give parents this flexibility.

We also reached out to the state’s Early Learning Center to explain how this will work.

We’ll update you as soon as we have those details.