Florida students, teachers to continue virtual distance learning for remainder of school year

Florida public schools will continue virtual learning for the rest of the school year.

Students will not return to schools before summer.

Gov. Ron DeSantis made the announcement during a press conference Saturday that students in grades K-12 will continue with distance learning through the rest of the school year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The governor originally closed public schools on March 16. 

The news doesn't come without its challenges.

Parents have been guiding their little ones through virtual learning for about a month.

Parents say they're getting comfortable with the new routine. 

"At first, it was a little stressful because I’m still working from home, but now there’s a good flow and everyone has been very flexible, and the teachers have been meeting with them every day on Zoom and online," said parent Samantha Geisler. 

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Shaemya Carr says it has given her more time to bond with her daughter. 

"Sometimes you just have to sit down with them and concentrate and they’ll get the hang of it," Carr said. 

Teachers say they've seen the challenges too, as students are helping out at home. 

"I’ve seen high schoolers show up to Zoom with an infant in their arms because they’re doing childcare while mom is working," said teacher Matthew Hazel. "Everyone is pitching in and wearing a lot of hats these days." 

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Gov. DeSantis said it wasn't an easy decision, but felt it would keep students most safe. 

"It's obviously not the ideal situation, but given where we are in the school year, we felt that was the best decision to go forward," DeSantis said. 

Orange County’s Classroom Teachers Association said it was the best choice to make in order to help stop the spread. 

"During class change, there are 4,000 kids in hallways. It’s shoulder-to-shoulder," Hazel said. "I can’t imagine a way to make a large high school work with social distancing."

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Now, teachers are working on their plans to keep students engaged online for the rest of the school year. 

"The big challenge for us I think will be engagement," Hazel said. "Keeping students engaged and doing the work and showing up to virtual class and listening to lessons."


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