CDC school guidance may have little effect in Florida

In-person instruction offered in Florida since last August
Children wear masks during in-person learning
Posted at 12:59 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 13:01:34-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — New guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic might not change anything in Florida, as state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is urging districts to "stay the course."

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As debate rages over how to reopen schools in various cities and states across the country, the CDC issued guidance Friday that includes mitigation strategies, indicators of COVID-19 transmission and testing for coronavirus in schools.

"This operational strategy presents a pathway to reopen schools and help them remain open through consistent use of mitigation strategies, especially universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing," a summary of the guidelines published on the CDC website said.

Before the guidelines were published Friday, Corcoran released a prepared statement largely focused on reiterating that Florida ordered schools to offer in-person instruction in July.

"Unlike much of the nation, Florida's schools have been operating safely for in-person instruction since last August, many also operated summer education programs, and 98.5% of early learning programs are serving families in-person," Corcoran said.

He added, "CDC guidance is informative, although Florida school districts, public charter schools and private schools should stay the course they began in Summer 2020."

Corcoran extended the July executive order in November to cover the spring semester. In the extension, he added a provision requiring districts to provide "enhanced outreach to parents and guardians to ensure maximum in-person enrollment and participation in school."