Florida Orders Schools to Make In-Classroom School Available in Fall

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Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Phoenix mayor wants FEMA to set up testing center … Houston mayor asks state Republican party to cancel convention … Georgia governor sends National Guard to Atlanta.

A state order on Monday declared that Florida school districts will need to provide in-person classes to students who want to be in the classroom. While the order by Richard Corcoran, the state education commissioner, received some pushback from teacher organizations that pointed to the surging coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the state, officials emphasized the mandate provides a great deal of flexibility for local leaders and allows them to take local situations with the virus into account. “If local conditions say you are able to do that, then, yes, you are required to provide that,” said chancellor Jacob Oliva in a conversation with school leaders. But Oliva noted that a recent survey found that only one-third of parents want kids back in classrooms all week, so the state’s formula for divvying up school funding will also take into consideration online schooling. Still, a lot of questions remain about how Florida schools will reopen classrooms as Covid cases rise. Fedrick Ingram, president of the Florida Education Association, said teachers want to reopen schools, but are concerned about safety. Teachers in a few counties on the east coast of the state were vehement about the potential danger. A union leader in Indian River County said it made more sense to start school virtually until case counts decrease. School leaders in hard-hit south Florida said students won’t be required to be back in the classroom. Others were more explicit that, because of the case loads, students won’t be returning to classrooms. “We do not see a realistic path” to offer five days of open school, Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie said. “We will never compromise the health and safety of our students, teachers and staff.” [Tampa Bay Times; Washington Post; Miami Herald; Sun Sentinel]

ARIZONA TESTING | Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to set up large-scale testing in the city, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus. But the agency has said they are no longer doing that. "They said they're trying to get away from that type of testing site ... and they don't want to open any new ones," she said. [Arizona Republic]

TEXAS CONVENTION | Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has asked the Republican Party of Texas to cancel its convention in the city next week to prevent the spread of coronavirus. “I do not think it is wise or prudent to hold a convention of 6,000 or more. I am asking them to have a virtual event,” he said. [Texas Tribune]

NATIONAL GUARD | Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday declared a state of emergency and sent the National Guard to Atlanta. Kemp said the decision was the result of a rise in shootings in the past few weeks and continued protests over police brutality. The National Guard will be stationed at state buildings like the Capitol and the Governor's Mansion. [CNN]

QUARANTINED MAYOR | The mayor of Jacksonville, Florida said he is self-quarantining after coming into contact with someone who has coronavirus. Jacksonville is set to host the Republican National Convention next month, potentially drawing thousands of visitors at a time when the city has become one of the leading hotspots for the virus nationwide. [Florida Times Union]

Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.

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