State to boost online education to prepare for potential impact of coronavirus

Hands using a laptop
Hands using a laptop (Luigi Masella/Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said Monday the state is boosting its online school capabilities to prepare for the potential impact of the novel coronavirus. In coordination with the Florida Virtual School, Corcoran said the state is prepared to train an additional 10,000 teachers in the next 15 to 20 days to conduct online classes.

The virtual school soon could be able to handle a total of 400,000 full-time students, a significant uptick from the current 40,000-student capacity, he said.

“We don’t think that is going to be necessary and I think we are doing a great job with our superintendents and creating that containment if a child is sick,” Corcoran told reporters at a press conference in the Capitol with Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees on Monday.

Concerns about the spread of the deadly virus, known as COVID-19, have already prompted the Florida Department of Education to coordinate with the superintendents of the state’s 67 school districts.

According to state health officials, COVID-19, which started in China, has caused the deaths of two Floridians.

Parents, students and employees are being asked to take necessary precautions, which include staying at home when they are sick and enhanced cleaning at schools.

“All of those things are being implemented by the districts,” Corcoran said Monday, adding “we continue to recognize we are at low risk.”

Florida universities are also taking precautions to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus on campus. The University of Florida is asking all instructors to move their face-to-face classes to online instruction as documented cases of coronavirus continue to rise in Florida.