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DeSantis Floats Differentiated Approach To Re-Opening Schools. In Leon, It May Soon Be Too Late

An empty classroom with blue metal chairs in three rows
Bonnie Brown
Flickr/creative commons

Florida is still weighing whether to cancel in-person classes for the remainder of the school year. Right now, students are doing distance-learning and working from home. But with the end of the school year looming, the chances students will get back into their regular classes is dimming.

As of today, there are no plans to cancel school for the rest of the year. Governor Ron DeSantis says he may want to take a differentiated approach.

“We want to give people enough time to prepare so I don’t think we would want to, the day before, say everyone go back to school the next day. We’re going to be deliberate and make the best decisions we can.  And it may be that not every county is treated the same in this. There’s nothing wrong with that. If the problem is different in certain parts, we should recognize that. And if the problem has abated in other parts, we should recognize that," DeSantis said when asked whether he'd cancel classes for the rest of the year. 

Still, the school year is a likely a loss for seniors who were looking forward to milestones like graduation and prom. Schools were supposed to resume in mid-April. Now, the return date is set for May 1st.  Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna says even if the state decides to resume in-person classes, it may already be too late for teachers to pivot.

 “Let’s say on the 7th of May they say 'okay you can come back'. Well, what would we have then? We’d have 50% of parents say ‘oh I can’t deal with this child anymore’ and send them back to school.  The other 50% would be scared because the curve in Leon County... is not getting here until June. So you’d have 50% of kids in school, 50% at home, and I can’t ask my teachers to do both…that’s an unrealistic expectation.” 

Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s best case scenario is for COVID-19 cases in Leon County and the panhandle to peak in mid-June. The school year is over May 29th

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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