Confusion over which brick-and-mortar public schools in FL are opening

Teacher in her classroom
Teacher in her classroom. Photo by Dave Einsel/Getty Images

For sure, Martin County School District in southeast Florida opened school doors to students on Tuesday.

But with constant fluctuation about starting dates during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s confusion on which public school districts are opening or not.

Earlier in the morning, The Florida Department of Education shared a tweet saying that “18 Florida school districts return to school this week,” and listed some of Florida’s districts, many in North Florida. The districts listed are: Baker, Bradford, Calhoun, DeSoto, Dixie, Escambia, Gilchrist, Franklin, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Jackson, Martin, Okeechobee, Pinellas, Suwannee, Union, Wakulla.

But that tweet is no longer on the DOE Twitter account, leading to confusion for the public.

Graphic shared by the FL Department of Education lists 18 school districts returning to school this week, but not all of those districts are returning until later in the month. Credit: DOE Twitter feed.

The Florida Phoenix found that in total, seven Florida school districts are open Tuesday at brick-and-mortar schools amid the pandemic. All districts have a virtual option for families if they don’t want their children at a traditional school.

The Florida Department of Health on Tuesday reported 542,792 COVID-19 infections and 8,553 deaths of Florida residents.

At least five other school districts will be opening later in the week, according to the Phoenix and based on calls to districts. By the end of the week, at least 12 Florida school districts will have started the new academic year.

The original DOE tweet also did not list Orange County, which started virtual-instruction-only on Monday. That district will open brick-and-mortar schools later in the month.

DeSoto, Okeechobee and Gulf Counties were listed in the tweet as “returning to school this week,” despite that those three districts won’t start school until next Monday, August 17.

In Jackson, Pinellas and Escambia, students will return to brick-and-mortar schools on August 24, but the DOE tweet listed that those districts would be reopening this week.

The DOE’s tweet was vague as to what “districts returning to school this week means” — it may have included districts where teachers were returning for pre-planning for the new school year.

The Phoenix attempted to contact the DOE for clarification, but the agency  has yet to return a call.

Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.