ORDER SIGNED BY FLORIDA DEPT. OF ED COMMISSIONER REQUIRES BRICK-AND-MORTAR SCHOOLS TO OPEN.
LAWSUITS FROM TEACHERS, PARENTS POSSIBLE.
UPDATE: 8:22 p.m.: From a Senior Palm Beach County School District Official: “The last thing we want is to alarm parents. The Health Advisory Committee is not going to recommend sending students to school if it is not safe.”
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — BREAKING AT 6:40 p.m. — Florida’s Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran just carried out Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump’s demands to require all schools to open for “in person” learning for the 2020-2021 school year. The order calls for Florida schools to open in August.
The complete text of the executive order follows.
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Here’s the first read “Cliff’s Notes” version: Schools must open, but it is up to local school boards and superintendents to determine what’s reasonable day-to-day. Technically: schools must open for five day a week “in person” learning, but a Superintendent can decide it’s not safe and close schools in the district. The 180 day school year requirement is waived. The language provides flexibility at the local level.
The order comes as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is tweeting about the infection and death rates in Florida.
Florida Department of Education Communications Director Taryn Fenske told BocaNewsNow.com: “I want to emphasize that the state has a moral imperative to do our absolute best to return our schools to full operation by August. We simply cannot give into fear of the unknown and just stop trying. Our children’s education, the comprehensive health of our families — mental health and stability in homes — and our economy are all depending on us to make every effort to reopen our school campuses.”
Claudia Shea, Communications Director for the Palm Beach County School District, said the only statement at this point was an explanation of the order.
“All school districts and charter school governing boards must provide an option fo students to come back to school five days a week in the fall for live instruction (which may be in-person or virtual).”
ORDER (Text errors are possible from an Optical Character Recognition system):
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Richard Corcoran, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Education (Department), pursuant to the authority granted by Executive Order 20-52, issue this order to accomplish the goals of: 1) reopening brick and mortar schools with the full panoply of services for the benefit of Florida students and families; 2) suspending and adjusting as necessary reporting requirements to ensure appropriate monitoring and financial continuity ofthe educational process; 3) retaining high-quality school choices for Florida students and families with a focus on eliminating achievement gaps, which may have been exacerbated by the crisis; and 4) maintaining services that are legally required for all students, such as low-income, English language learning, and students with disabilities.
The temporary and limited nature ofthe waiver ofstatutes and rules is necessary to respond to the pandemic. Much like the statutory provisions authorizing an agency to vary or waive a rule under section 120.542, Florida Statutes, all suspensions or modifications provided for in this order provide an alternate means of achieving the underlying purpose of the statute or rule.
I find that flexibility provided for in this order is necessary in order to respond to and mitigate the impact of the emergency and to promote the health, safety, and welfare of persons connected with Florida’s educational system.
I. Reopening Requirements.
All schools open. Upon reopening in August, all school boards and charter
school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students, subject to advice and orders of the Florida Department of Health, local departments ofhealth, Executive Order 20-149 and subsequent executive orders. Absent these directives, the day-to-day decision to open or close a school must always rest locally with the board or executive most closely associated with a school, the superintendent or school board in the case of a district-run school, the charter governing board in the case of a public charter school or the private school principal, director or governing board in the case of a nonpublic school. Strict compliance with requirements of section 1001.42(4)(f), Florida Statutes, requiring school districts to establish a uniform and fixed date for the opening and closing of schools is waived to the extent necessary to give effect to this Order. In addition, strict compliance with sections 1003.02 and 1011.60(2), Florida Statutes, requiring school districts to operate public schools for a minimum of 180 days or an hourly equivalent is waived to the extent necessary to give effect to this Order, consistent with an approved reopening plan. Further, strict compliance with the reporting requirements for educational planning and information, as set forth in section 1008.385, Florida Statutes, and Rule 6A-l.0014, Florida Administrative Code, is waived to the extent necessary to give effect to this Order, consistent with an approved reopening plan.
b. Full panoply of services. Pursuant to the authority granted in section 1001.10(8), Florida Statutes, school districts and charter school governing boards must provide the full array of services that are required by law so that families who wish to educate their children in a brick and mortar school full time have the opportunity to do so; these services include in-person instruction (barring a state or local health directive to the contrary), specialized instruction and services for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or live synchronous or asynchronous instruction with the same curriculum as in-person instruction and the ability to interact with a student’s teacher and peers as approved by the Commissioner of Education. Required services must be provided to students from low-income families, students of migrant workers, students who are homeless, students with disabilities, students in foster care, students who are English Language Learners, and other vulnerable populations.
c. Progress monitoring. Robust progress monitoring must be extended to all students in the same district or public charter school with tiered support for students who are not making adequate progress. Students who are receiving instruction through innovative teaching methods must be provided additional support and the opportunity to transition to another teaching method if they fail to make adequate progress. Progress monitoring data must be shared regularly with the Department, as prescribed, to help ensure that resources are rapidly deployed to support students who are failing to make adequate progress.
d. Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners (ELL). Students with IEPs must be given the services necessary to ensure they experience a free and appropriate education. School districts must immediately begin working with IEP teams to identify students who may have regressed during school closures. School districts must ensure that IEP teams determine needed services, including compensatory services. IEP teams must follow a student-centered approach with a commitment to ensure that the individual needs of each child are met. If English Language Learners’ English reading, writing, listening or speaking skills have regressed during school closures, school districts should convene an ELL Committee meeting with appropriate staff and parents to determine if additional or supplemental English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services are needed. Although ELL Committee meetings may take place virtually or on-site, school districts should ensure that appropriate identification ofEnglish skills has been noted and that schools have the resources to implement additional interventions and strategies.
e. Charter school flexibility. School districts must extend the same flexibility in instructional methods to every charter school that submits a reopening plan to the sponsoring dist1ict addressing the requirements set forth in this Order. Charter schools with an approved reopening plan are authorized to exercise this flexibility provided in this Order.
II. Reopening Plans.
a. In order to receive the flexibility and continuity provided for in this Order,school dishicts must submit to the Department a reopening plan that satisfies the requirements of this Order. Similarly, each school governing board must submit a reopening plan to the sponsoring district. Either a school district or a charter school governing board may request assistance from the Department to resolve any disputes over a sponsor’s approval of a charter school’s reopening plan. The Department will seek to resolve such disputes within three business days. The Department may withhold approval ofa school district’s reopening plan until such time as all the charter school reopening plans in the district have been approved by the district. In reviewing and approving plans the Department will also consider factors, including but not limited to, the percentage of students in the district who are projected to learn through live synchronous or asynchronous instruction, the quality of proposed progress monitoring data and efforts to close achievement gaps. The format of plan submissions, as well as the timing of review and approvals, will be established by the Commissioner of Education. The submission of reopening plans and subsequent approval ofthose plans does not constitute a waiver ofstate statutes regarding instructional days and hours, rather approval demonstrates how the district or school adheres to those statutes and rules. Nothing herein requires a district or charter school to submit a plan if the district or charter school wishes to open in traditional compliance with statutory requirements for instructional days and hours.
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