Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday evening announced that all Florida families will have a choice between in-person and online instruction when the new school year starts next month. “No parent should be required to send their kids to school in person, but I believe we owe every Florida parent a choice,” DeSantis, who has three young children, said in a brief, televised statement at 5 p.m Wednesday, July 23. He did not take any questions following the announcement.

Florida public school buildings will be open for in-person and online instruction, DeSantis said, offering flexibility to school districts that need to delay their start date by a few weeks.

“Have at it,” DeSantis said.

He warned against letting fear dictate these decisions, and encouraged Florida residents to continue their efforts to protect themselves, their loved ones, employees and others from the coronavirus.

 “The hard truth is that our kids are at the least risk and play the smallest role in transmitting the virus, but they have borne the heaviest burden throughout all of this,” he said. “We have to fight this virus by being laser-focused on protecting our most vulnerable residents while also working to restart our economy.”

Keeping school campuses closed, DeSantis said, would “exacerbate achievement gaps” for struggling students and “have a disproportionate impact” on low-income students and working parents. 

“The risks associated with online learning are low, but the costs are enormous,” he said, adding that although Florida stepped up admirably to provide online instruction once the virus began its spread in March, it’s a “far cry” from the real thing.

DeSantis also said other countries have reopened schools without experiencing dire consequences.

He encouraged creative solutions and offered flexibility to school districts, teachers and families as everyone navigates the new — and ever-changing — normal. 

School officials In the Florida Keys need to know parents’ plans as soon as possible so they can allocate sufficient space in physical classrooms and make needed staffing adjustments.

Go to keysschools.com to submit your family’s intentions.

 

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