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Emergency order for schools not coming before Thanksgiving

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s education commissioner has said he hoped to have a new emergency order detailing how public schools would operate beginning in January before Thanksgiving arrived.

But it looks like the order will be coming later than expected.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran did shed some light on what might change for students and parents in the spring semester earlier this month. He said the state will build on lessons learned during the fall.

“I would say I think the next emergency order is going to be a significant improvement based on our first 90, 100 days in school,” Corcoran said.

He also promised full parental choice, leaving in place online and brick-and-mortar learning options.

But superintendents are worried some students have been struggling with online learning.

“Our difficulty and some parents’ difficulty is getting them to complete those assignments and to upload those and get them back,” Wakulla County Superintendent Robert Pearce said.

And Corcoran said in the spring there will have to be greater efforts to intervene when online learning isn’t working for a student.

“We have to do one of two things: move them to a different modality, a different choice, so that we’re not short changing that child and all of the repercussions that come with it — or we need to have massive interventions and we need to know what those interventions are if they’re going to stay for medical reasons or whatever in that modality.”

Corcoran also said the state would move ahead with standardized testing to identify what impact the pandemic has had on student performance.

“When we get that back we’ll look at that data and wherever we see and aberration that is not fair or not just of course we’re going to make adjustments,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the agency expects to have the updated emergency order issued before the end of the month.

“We’re on track to meet that goal. We’ve been working with districts and superintendents and they’re aware of that timeline,” Department of Education spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said in an emailed statement.

One of the biggest concerns of school administrators is whether districts will continue receiving full funding for students who opt for distance learning. Corcoran previously said those details are still being discussed.