Schools across the state of Florida have been ordered to reopen in August per an emergency order signed by Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday.
Corcoran signed the order on Monday, which requires “brick and mortar schools” — including charter schools — to open “at least five days per week for all students.” The move is “subject to advice and orders of the Florida Department of Health and local departments of health.”
The order states that education “is critical to the success of the state and to an individual, and extended school closures can impede educational success of students, impact families’ well-being and limit many parents and guardians from returning to work” and adds that schools are more than just a “site of academic learning.”
“Schools provide many services to students that are critical to the well-being of students and families, such as nutrition, socialization, counseling, and extra-curricular activities,” it continues.
“There is a need to open schools fully to ensure the quality and continuity of the educational process, the comprehensive well-being of students and families and a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride,” the order states, emphasizing that the reopening process “must be consistent with safety precautions as defined by the Florida Department of Health, local health officials and supportive of Floridians, young and adult, with underlying conditions that make them medically vulnerable.”
Districts will be required to submit their reopening plans to the Department of Education. Schools are required to offer a “full panoply of services” for students and families and adhere to the requirements of the emergency order:
Thank you Superintendent! https://t.co/aAvhcag9bh
— Richard Corcoran (@richardcorcoran) July 7, 2020
The news coincides with a call from President Trump, who on Monday proclaimed that “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!”
SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
The Trump administration is reportedly working closely with states in their school reopening plans.
“I think it’s worth noting that the CDC in guidance, we never recommended that schools close,” an administration official said, according to Fox News. “Those were local jurisdictional decisions made.”
“The CDC never recommended school closures because they didn’t believe that was an effective strategy,” the official continued. “But these decisions are local decisions, and our goal is to work hand-in-hand with local jurisdictions to make sure to see the best ways to reopen schools in a safe way, and get back to where we would have really preferred to have been in spring, which is to have an active educational component available to the students.”
The official added: “It is such an important component of our communities and important for the well-being and health of individuals that are school age.”
The news comes as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the Sunshine State, among the younger demographic, specifically. Notably, the case fatality rate in Florida remains low, 1.9 percent as of Monday, compared to states like New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.