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New emergency order from DOE not coming before Thanksgiving

Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 4:35 AM CST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Florida’s Commissioner of Education has said he hoped to issue a new emergency order detailing how Florida schools would operate in January prior to Thanksgiving, but it appears it will be coming later than expected.

The commissioner did give some hints as to what might change for students and parents in the spring semester earlier this month.

At the November meeting of the State Board of Education, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said the state will build upon lessons learned in the fall when asked about a new emergency order.

“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,” said Corcoran.

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

But superintendents are worried some students have been having a difficult time engaging with online learning.

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

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,” said Corcoran.

The commissioner 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,” said Corcoran.

We did reach out to the Department of Education to ask whether to expect the updated emergency order before Thanksgiving.

DOE Communications Director Taryn Fenske told us the department’s goal is to issue one 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,” said Fenske 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.

At the BOE meeting the Commissioner said those details were still being discussed.