Florida Allows Students to Continue Virtual Learning for the Rest of the Year

Ella Pedroso, Design Editor

Florida has decided to provide public school students with the option of continuing school virtually going into the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said Wednesday.

With a rise of COVID-19 cases in schools and many schools in the district making the switch to virtual learning, many families were interested in the Department’s second semester school plan. On Wednesday, members of the Florida Board of Education met in Tallahassee to discuss suggestions made by school district superintendents to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Corcoran said on Wednesday that students may continue learning virtually through the end of the school year. The Florida Department of Education plans to continue all three learning options: Florida Virtual School, face-to-face learning and each district’s distance learning method. 

The state plans to release their plan for the second semester of the school year in a new emergency order soon, according to Corcoran. The next emergency order continues to provide the option of virtual learning. 

Walluka County Schools Superintendent Robert Pearce stated that the need for virtual learning remains as COVID-19 cases rise. The state’s Department of Health released numbers that show 7,925 new cases and 88 deaths in one day.

While the state has confirmed year-long virtual learning, they have not confirmed the funding model that they plan to offer. Under the current order, which expires in December, districts receive the same amount of funding for students learning virtually as long as they offer a face-to-face learning option. 

Corcoran committed to allowing students to stay online, but did not commit to funding online students the same as in-person students. The teachers union feels troubled about funding. Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar expressed that if the funding goes away, districts cannot offer the option for virtual school, and students may either be forced to attend physical school, or have to use Florida Virtual School.

The new order leaves the choice of how students attend school to parental choice, Corcoran said. He expects to release the order by Thanksgiving.