FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has confirmed all of the state’s K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.
The governor made the announcement during a press briefing held Saturday afternoon.
“We spoke with a lot of folks throughout the state. There were some differing opinions. Some parents were not interested in their kids going back. Some mothers [said] it’s been tough around the house, they would have liked to have seen them go back,” he said, “but I think, as we looked at the clock to see how well it would look like, we’ve got pretty good momentum for distance learning.”
The coronavirus pandemic prompted the closure of all the state’s K-12 schools about a month ago.
“It’s not the ideal situation, but given where we are in the school year, we felt that was the best decision to go forward,” said DeSantis.
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho took to Twitter to confirm that online learning will continue.
Earlier this week, Carvalho said it would be “imprudent” to reopen schools.
Saturday night, he posted a video posted online. In the clip, he said, “The health, safety and security of our children and hourly employees continue to be our highest priority. As a result of recent information obtained from the governor’s office as well as consultation with the state and local health departments, we have made the most logical decision, to keep every single school in Miami-Dade closed for the rest of the school year. We shall however, continue our online distance learning process. Parents, I know this is disruptive and inconvenient. I’m asking you to stay the course with us, and do the very best for our children.”
Hours after he tweeted his support for DeSantis’ decision, Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie spoke out about the matter.
“I think it was a very good decision,” he said.
Saturday night, parents and teachers in South Florida weighed in on the extension of school closures.
Rosa Fontanet said she is complete agreement with DeSantis’ decision.
“I think it’s safe — I think the governor made a smart move,” she said.
But Fontanet said the past month has been a tough time for her daughter, a sophomore in high school.
“She’s missing her friends terribly. She was in state competitions for drama club, and that got cancelled, so she couldn’t do that,” she said,
Fontanet, a Broward County schoolteacher, said she has a unique perspective on just how difficult distance learning can be.
“It’s hard, because I can’t really reach my students anymore the way I used to be able to reach them,” she said. “A lot of them are confused. This is hard for them.”
Fontanet nevertheless stressed that keeping everyone safe needs to be the priority, a sentiment echoed by other local parents.
“I honestly think it was the right decision,” said Donna Francisco.
The concerned mother said it would have been pointless to send students back by May 1, which was the date previously recommended by the Florida Department of Education.
“Let’s give them enough time to sanitize the schools, get everybody healthy again, and then go back again next year healthy,” said Francisco.
Runcie said he understands it could be a hard time for some parents, but he is confident they will get through it.
“I just want parents to know that look we’re there to support you,” he said. “We will work together, we will get through this. We have to, because our children depend on us.”
On Friday, the Archdiocese of Miami said the rest of their school year will remain online as well.
District officials said graduation information for high school seniors will be announced soon.
Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.
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