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Florida Department of Education to develop scenario-based academic plan

Posted at 6:35 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 18:35:23-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Keeping students safe while giving them a quality education is now on the top of mind for Florida's Department of Education.

The board met on Wednesday to discuss what the 2020-2021 school year will look like given the ongoing pandemic, but we still don't know what the future looks like for schools.

The board didn't make any final decisions about the upcoming school year at the meeting and there's a chance we won't have a definitive answer until the end of summer.

Instead of deciding on the best plan now, the DOE will spend the next three months working on different scenarios.

No one could have anticipated much of the country shutting down for a global pandemic.

"The conditions are changing," said Michael Grego, the superintendent of Pinellas County Schools. "Knowing that, we need to prepare for a, b, and c so that when we get to August, we're prepared for any and all."

That's why the Florida Department of Education is now being more proactive about what's next.

"We need to use this as a springboard to elevate and ensure that we can do this work," Grego said. "Whether that be a Saturday school or distance learning."

The board is looking at continued e-learning, rotating students between in-class and at-home learning, and even extending hours and school into the weekend.

One key focus is making sure students aren't falling behind with all of the changes, especially those in Title I schools.

"How do we level that playing field, and how do we extend that day, and how do we ensure that we don't see poverty as the reason for a lack of achievement," said Grego.

While the board acknowledges each district is impacted differently, the decision will ultimately be uniform.

"I will not be making that decision of how we return and what it looks like," said Rocky Hanna, the superintendent of Leon County Schools. "The governor and commissioner Cochran will."

But Leon County's Superintendent is examining what matters most in Leon County.

"So, we all are looking at all different scenarios, as well as looking at other things like technology, devices, connectivity," Hanna said.

The DOE, local school districts, and colleges across the state are now putting together task forces to figure out how to best help the community.

Superintendent Hanna plans to unveil his task force next week.