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Education Commissioner Rips Hillsborough County Schools Reopen Plan

Florida’s education commissioner is telling Hillsborough County Schools to hit the brakes on its plan to have students learn from home the first four weeks of the school year.


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The school system responded by saying its decision was based on data and information from medical experts.

School leaders voted Thursday to keep its August 24 school reopen date but have students learn virtually at the beginning, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Commissioner Richard Corcoran said the school system’s plan is not fair to parents and children.

“The Hillsborough County School Board needs to follow the law, it’s that simple,” he said in a prepared statement.

“The whole reason the Department created the emergency order was to grant districts maximum flexibility to do what is right for parents and school children. We will not stand idly by while they trample over the majority of parents who want to do right by their children.”

Corcoran said these are “urgent circumstances.”

“What they did yesterday completely eliminated the flexible options for their families and students and ignored how harmful it can be for students who are experiencing violence, abuse, and food insecurity in their homes, many of whom are already struggling to close achievement gaps. These are urgent circumstances and we cannot, and will not, ignore it,” he said.

In a response, Superintendent Addison Davis said: “I have received the letter from the Florida Department of Education and we are in the process of reviewing and analyzing the letter with our legal team. Yesterday, the School Board made an informed decision after receiving data and hearing from the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, along with hearing the advice of other local infectious disease and public health authorities. The Board acted after serious deliberations and with all due diligence. Our district understood the possibility that such a response from the state might come and it has been clear that the district could face negative implications. We will use this information to have discussions about where we go from here.”

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