FL could likely close bricks-and-mortar schools for the entire school year; other states already doing that

Schools
School entrance sign. Photo, CD Davidson-Hiers

As coronavirus infections spread in Florida, the state’s education department continues to recommend extensions to campus closures of K-12 schools. But at one point will Florida close brick-and-mortar schools for the rest of the school year?

States elsewhere are already shutting down school buildings for the rest of the academic year.

“At this time, schools are rescheduled to open as of May 1, but with what we are hearing from medical and science experts, it is very possible that our school buildings will remain closed through the end of the school year,” Andrew Spar, vice president of the Florida Education Association, said in an email to the Florida Phoenix.

School closures mean that kids are no longer going to traditional school settings in physical buildings and receiving face-to-face learning.

“Teachers and staff have been a familiar and comforting face to students, especially with our youngest students who are struggling to understand what COVID is all about…if school buildings are closed through the end of the school year, we expect that the learning will continue as it is right now, as will the vital connection between the school and the home,” Spar said.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s latest announcement this week recommended “that all Florida public and private K-12 school campuses extend campus closures through May 1.”

And earlier in March, the education department said in a press release that Florida school districts should extend spring breaks to plan for distance learning and shut down schools until April 15.

Coronavirus and school closings. Credit: Education Week

Education Week reports that “school closures due to coronavirus have impacted at least 124,000 U.S. public and private schools and affected at least 55.1 million students.”

That report includes a map of school building closures throughout the nation, and neighboring Alabama and Georgia are among states in the south that have closed for the entire year.

But Florida has yet to make an announcement that schools will close for the remainder of the year.

“No decisions past that (May 1) date have been made,” said Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters.

School districts are either awaiting to start distance learning programs or they have already begun.

Leon County in Tallahassee plans to start its online learning program April 13, school officials said. Students at Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville have already begun their online learning programs.