Statement Follows BocaNewsNow.com Report That Gov. DeSantis and Education Commissioner Corcoran May Order Students Back To Classrooms In January
BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — The Palm Beach County School District just issued a statement following our report that Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran — on behalf of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — may order all students back to “brick and mortar” classrooms as the next semester gets underway in January.
“The District recognizes that the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) has yet to extend its current Executive Order, providing instructional flexibility, beyond December 31, 2020, however that option exists,” wrote Palm Beach County School District Spokesperson Claudia Shea. “The FDOE has always championed parent choice, and we remain hopeful that FDOE will continue to prioritize this practice for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.”
Many families, according to Shea, wish to remain in “distance learning.”
“At the local level,” said Shea, “the District’s recent Make Your Choice survey revealed that many parents in Palm Beach County still want the choice to keep their child in a distance learning option tied to their child’s home school. If, for the second semester, the FDOE does not provide the same level of FTE funding for those students participating in distance learning, as compared to brick and mortar, then school districts may be unable to provide this additional choice to parents due to budgetary constraints. The sense of urgency around the FDOE’s critical decision led the following priority to be added to the SDPBC 2021 Legislative Platform, which is set to be approved by the School Board on November 17, 2020.”
Earlier Wednesday, BocaNewsNow.com asked the FDOE for comment following reports we received from administrators across the state claiming that Commissioner Corcoran would end distance learning. The office provided this statement:
“It’s a false narrative,” said FDOE Spokeswoman Melanie Etters. “There’s no way virtual funding will simply disappear into thin air. Currently every school district is submitting data to our official Survey 2 that collects detailed enrollment data. By mid-November, we should have a clearer picture of what enrollment looks like and how that could impact the Spring 2021 semester.”
But Etters didn’t discuss directly respond to a request asking if parents can rest assured that “distance learning” will continue as it is currently offered.
“The Commissioner is committed to ensuring students and families have choices,” said Florida Department of Education Spokeswoman Cheryl Etters. “Virtual options will definitely be available, and we’re reviewing all of the data that comes in from Survey Two to make determinations about the spring.”
Whether there is a semantics issue in that statement remains to be seen. Multiple educators familiar with the meeting, contacting BocaNewsNow.com, suggest that Corcoran plans to tell families who wish to proceed with “distance learning” that they must enroll in FLVS — Florida Virtual School. FLVS is free to Florida residents.
Parents of VPK students are already preparing for change. The Florida Department of Education is requiring students in VPK, Head Start, Early Head Start and other program to return to classrooms. This message was transmitted to parents earlier Wednesday by robocall:
“Good morning parents and guardians of VPK students, this is the School District of Palm Beach County,
Parents and guardians were asked to finalize their plans for their children’s instruction, in-person or distance learning, and changes will take effect on November 4. However, the Florida VPK Flex Plan, which gives parents and guardians the option to plan for their children to attend the VPK program through distance learning, expires on December 31. This means that after winter break, the state will no longer authorize public schools or private early learning centers to offer distance learning as an instructional choice during VPK hours. Starting on January 4, 2021, students in the District’s VPK, Head Start, Early Head Start, and related PreK-Age 3 programs will only return to in-person instruction. Distance learning will not be available for this select group of students beyond December 18. For questions, please reach out to your child’s teacher or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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