Florida orders all schools to reopen in August

Evidence has indicated children are unlikely to be sickened by, or spread, coronavirus.

Updated: July 7, 2020 - 2:58pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Florida has ordered that all schools reopen their campuses in August – a major departure from nationwide education policy as many public officials continue to debate whether to return to the classroom in the fall in any capacity. 

Schools were first among the first U.S. institutions to shutter as the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, with state governors ordering the shutdowns at first for several weeks, then in most cases through the end of the school year. 

As fall now approaches, state officials have been reluctant to consider reopening classrooms, amid growing evidence that children are less likely to contract and spread the disease and are equally unlikely to experience severe infections if they do get sick. 

In Florida on Monday, state Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran issued an executive order directing "all school boards and charter school governing boards [to] open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students" in August. 

Corcoran cited what he said was the "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 commissioner further ordered that schools throughout the state "must provide the full array of services that are required by law so that families who wish to educate their children in a brick and mortar school full time have the opportunity to do so." 

He noted that the state would be relaxing its "strict compliance" expectations for normal reporting practices during the reopening process. 

Schools, Corcoran argued, "are not just the site of academic learning."

"[S]chools provide many services to students that are critical to the well-being of students and families," he said, "such as nutrition, socialization, counseling, and extra-curricular activities."

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