Statewide FEA teacher’s union asks Gov. DeSantis to close schools for the rest of the academic year

By: - April 14, 2020 3:59 pm

School entrance sign. Photo, CD Davidson-Hiers

With schools nationwide closing for the rest of the academic year, Florida has yet to announce a permanent decision on keeping kids out of school because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But in a letter sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis Tuesday, the Florida Education Association pushed the governor to “keep school campuses closed for the remainder of the school year.”

“Governor DeSantis, let’s lead together. Now is the time to declare the previously unthinkable: School campuses will be closed to students for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, and education will continue to happen at a distance,” FEA President Fedrick Ingram wrote.

DeSantis said in a late afternoon press conference Tuesday that it was premature to decide whether schools should open again in May.

“We haven’t made a decision yet. Obviously, it’s going to be based on safety. It’s going to be based on consultation with folks, the superintendents, the parents. We’re just in a situation where we’ve got to see where we’re going,” DeSantis said.

“It doesn’t mean that they are going to go back. But I just think we need to get down this road a little bit further.”

DeSantis said he expects to appoint a task force shortly to start looking at what a longer-term re-opening of Florida will look like. He said it would include education institutions, from K-12 schools to higher education, but would also look at other phases of the re-opening, including economic issues and challenges for Florida businesses.

School closures nationwide. Credit: Education Week, as of April 13.

States from Georgia to New York have already shut down schools for the academic year.

The alternative is a remote learning, which Florida has been using, though there have been technological glitches and concerns about students losing key instruction time.

According to the Florida Department of Education, school districts began the 2019-20 school year as early as August 12, 2019 for the vast majority of districts. The latest start was August 19, 2019, in Miami-Dade’s school district.

The regular school year was scheduled to end for students as early as May 22 and as late as June 3.

Phoenix reporter Lloyd Dunkelberger contributed to this report.

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.