Florida’s public schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year

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Florida’s public schools will remain closed and stay online through the end of the 2019-2020 school year, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his unilateral decision at a press conference.

“We obviously weren’t going to do it on May 4,’‘ DeSantis said about reopening the schools, which were recommended by the Florida Department of Education to remain closed until May 1.

He said, “differing opinions” led the state to make the call to keep schools closed. The state has changed its timeline for reopening schools several times, from initially just being out for roughly two weeks, then to April 15, then to May 1.

“Some parents were not interested in their kids going back,” DeSantis said. “We’ve got pretty good momentum for distance learning. It’s obviously not the ideal situation but given where we are in the school year, we felt that was the best decision to go forward.”

Teacher unions blasted DeSantis for considering reopening schools. Florida Education Association president Fedrick Ingram penned a letter to the governor asking him to “declare the previously unthinkable” and close schools for the remainder of the year.

The superintendents of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, had publicly doubted and condemned the state’s timeline of reopening schools May 1. A statewide call among all of the state’s superintendents was held with Tallahassee education leaders on Friday.

Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie had told families in a video message April 3 to expect to stay online through the end of the school year. Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto tweeted Wednesday that reopening schools by May 1 would be “unlikely but imprudent.”

Carvalho, Runcie and Palm Beach Superintendent Donald Fennoy came out ahead of the governor March 13 to announce that their schools would be closed for two weeks. The Archdiocese of Miami made the call Friday to shutter its 60 schools with 38,000 students in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties until the end of the year.

On Saturday, Carvalho and Runcie shared the news on their personal Twitter accounts that schools would be closed for the rest of the year: “I support Govenor DeSantis decision that Florida K-12 schools will continue with distance learning for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year,” Runcie said.

“It’s the right thing to do as the safety of our students, teachers and staff is the highest priority.”

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