TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida public schools will remain closed longer than first anticipated due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and Richard Corcoran, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Education, said during a news conference on Tuesday that students will remain off campuses until at least April 15.
The Florida Department of Education says K-12 school districts, colleges and universities should be prepared to extend their educational calendars through June 30, 2020.
Governor DeSantis recommended that K-12 schools will stay on extended break until April 15 and every 2 weeks we’ll reevaluate that recommendation. All schools are encouraged to use virtual and non-classroom based options to the greatest extent possible. Schools are also strongly encouraged to have no more than 10 people in a room together to adhere to CDC recommendations.
Local districts are working on digital plans so students may learn from home.
Pinellas County Schools and the Hillsborough County School District posted updates on its social media accounts.
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In addition, DeSantis announced all required testing remaining for the 2019-2020 school year is canceled.
"All remaining testing for school readiness, voluntary pre-K and K through 12 will be canceled for the school year," DeSantis said during Tuesday's press conference.
"Requirement for graduation and promotion and final course grades will be evaluated as those assessments did not exist," he added.
Parents, according to DeSantis, will be given the option to keep their kids in the same grade during the 2020-2021 school year.
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Parent Joshua Land said he continues to teach his 5-year-old basic math, reading and vocabulary words at home.
"I'm okay with it. I'm really okay with it, more precaution so we're not having a major outbreak like Italy or China," said Land.
In addition, the governor said K-12 grades will not be calculated for the 2019-2020 school year. He said Corcoran may also reduce required K-12 instructional hours as necessary to accommodate for closures.
Florida's school districts are being instructed to redirect unspent 2019-2020 funds from various allocations to help low income students purchase digital devices and establish internet services so that they can participate in remote instruction.
K-12 school districts are also permitted to redirect unspent 2019-2020 funds from the state schools and mental health allocations to virtual and telephonic mental health counseling services for students that need emotional support.