Schools in Florida must offer parents the choice of continuing remote learning next semester, but they must submit plans to help students who struggle in their online courses, Gov Ron DeSantis announced, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
“The message is schools are open,” Mr DeSantis was quoted as saying during a news conference at a Kissimmee elementary school. “We are not going to abandon your child. We are not going to abandon you. We are still offering parents to make a choice.”
But if students enrolled in online courses fall behind, the governor’s order would require the school to allow their parents to transition those students to in-person learning. The decision would rest with individual parents, though.
Calling widespread school closures “the biggest public health blunder” of the pandemic, he said the data and evidence are overwhelmingly clear that “virtual learning is just not the same as being in person.” But he wanted to ensure that parents still have choices.
Many students, including those who might be falling behind in their online classes, would probably agree with the governor’s position.
“What could be so bad about” in-person learning? asks Travis Newbery in the student newspaper at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“The short answer is that it is way too soon,” he answers. “The entire ‘back to real school’ experience we have been craving since online school began is not lived up to, and it really cannot be entirely achieved until we can fully put COVID-19 behind us.”
It might be different, he suggests, if in-person school didn’t involve logging into Microsoft Teams from a classroom instead of a bedroom.
“It is quite literally online learning in a classroom setting, and I cannot fathom why any student would risk their life to do that,” he writes.
I can’t imagine, either, Travis. Or why a teacher would. Especially in the current viral surge situation sweeping the nation. Plus, social distancing is definitely not the same as social learning.
“Think of what a socially-distanced school means: no sitting with your friends at lunch, no group work, no class discussions or fun activities in class,” he writes. “Students are not even allowed to get out of their seats during class. All social interaction, whether it be with friends or even teachers, is not entirely out the window, but it is going to be extremely fractured and incomplete.”