Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has approved a plan allowing students to continue learning remotely through the 2021 spring semester.
Florida authorized the option earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Gov. Ron DeSantis has advocated for schools to reopen — giving students and families the option of learning in person — many students have opted to remain remote.
Corcoran made the announcement regarding next year’s spring semester Tuesday at a Board of Education meeting. He expects the state to issue a new emergency order on the education plan late this month or early December. That order would extend the remote learning option through the end of the 2020-21 school year.
The Governor shut down schools in mid-March over concerns about the virus’s spread. But this past summer, ahead of the 2020-21 school year, DeSantis and Corcoran pushed for schools to reopen, citing, in part, low risk for children who contract COVID-19.
“The fact is in terms of the risk to school kids, this is lower risk than seasonal influenza,” DeSantis said at the time.
While the mortality rate among young people is miniscule, some have worried schools could serve as a spreading mechanism for the virus. The long-term effects of contracting the novel coronavirus are also unknown.
Infection rates have been consistently rising in Florida in recent weeks. That comes as DeSantis has widely pushed for the state to reopen beyond just schooling.
The Governor has looked to allow parents who prefer remote learning to retain that option. Corcoran’s Tuesday announcement would continue that trend.
The new order was announced shortly before the state’s current education order expires in January. Enrollment shifts throughout schools are not affecting a school district’s funding, per the current order. Per POLITICO, several groups have pushed Corcoran to add those funding freezes into the upcoming order as well.