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Rick Scott asks Betsy DeVos about school readiness for coronavirus

Schools are currently only closed through April 15.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott is asking U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos how the state can prepare schools for an extended period of distance learning as the coronavirus outbreak worsens.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has closed preschool and K-12 public school campuses through at least April 15 to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and canceled year-end testing. But as the virus continues to spread throughout the state, officials may need to consider extending the remote learning period.

“I am extremely concerned about the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the effect it is having on our nation, including our schools,” Scott wrote.

Scott’s letter asks about the best practices for online practices, how to transition to online learning and what resources schools could use to detect and respond to the virus within the school.

Most students are currently on an extended spring break to keep students at home and away from campus. Those school districts will start virtual learning on March 30 through online school or paper assignments delivered home.

But Duval, Collier, Union and Sumter County school districts are on an earlier calendar and started distance learning Monday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends closing campuses to students as a way to mitigate community spread of COVID-19.

But as schools move online for the time being, not every student has access.

In recent days, Scott — the state’s former Governor — has called for beaches and air travel to shut down throughout the state. He also called for a moratorium on rent, mortgages, fees and utilities.

Scott has been among the most vocal critics of what he calls the “Chinese coronavirus.”

In addition to school closures, DeSantis has ordered bars to close and restaurants move to delivery and carryout only. On Friday, he issued four executive orders closing restaurants for dining in, closing some South Florida beaches, suspending elective surgeries and allowing local governments to teleconference for meetings.

As of 11 a.m. Monday, there are 1,171 positive COVID-19 cases, including 1,096 Florida residents. An 85-year-old female in Palm Beach County became the 14th person to die of the disease in the state.

DeVos and the Department of Education have taken measures including canceling standardized tests and temporarily neutralizing student loan interest rates.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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