TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Saturday evening that Kindergarten to Grade 12 students will continue remotely until the end of the school year.
“We have spoken with many people across the state. There were differing opinions, ”said DeSantis. “Some parents were not interested in the return of their children, others were. It has been difficult in the house that they would like to see them come back, but I think when we look at the clock and look at what it would look like, we have pretty good momentum for distance learning. This is obviously not the ideal situation, but given where we are in the school year, we felt it was the best decision to move forward. “
“I think the last thing you want to do is force everyone into school and half the kids don’t show up because their parents didn’t want them to go,” he added. .
Florida students were scheduled to return to school on May 4.
DeSantis made the announcement at a coronavirus media briefing where he also provided updates on COVID-19 testing efforts, the state-wide response to long-term care facilities and the possible recovery of the Florida economy.
DeSantis said he would announce members of a new task force on Monday to start examining when and how to reopen businesses, schools and other aspects of living in the state.
“There will be a number of business people, people who will be elected. We will announce the members of the working group on Monday, which will also be the first day the group will meet by phone. The task force will develop a three-step approach to respond to the opening of the state: short term, medium term and long term, “said DeSantis. “They’re going to make recommendations to me by the end of the week. ”
President Trump gave US governors a road map to recover from the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, outlining “a phased and deliberate approach” to restore normal activity to places that are seeing decline the number of cases of the new coronavirus.
“Governors will be empowered to adapt an approach that responds to the diverse circumstances of their own states. Each state is very different, “President Trump said Thursday at the Coronavirus Task Force briefing.
Each phase includes benchmarks to maintain a decrease in the number of cases over a 14-day period and a “return to normal” for hospitals.
On Friday, beaches in northern Florida became among the first to allow people to return from closings due to the coronavirus.
Mayor Lenny Curry said Duval County beaches reopen on Friday afternoon with limited hours and can only be used for walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming , pet care and surfing.
Beaches will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Curry said in a video posted on social media. Gatherings of 50 or more people are prohibited and people should always practice social distance.
“My friends, this could be the start of the path back to normal life, but please respect and follow these limits,” said Curry. “We will come back to life as we know it, but we must be patient. “
Florida officials have been criticized for leaving the beaches open for part of the spring break last month. Most counties have closed their beaches in response or have kept them open under very restrictive conditions. Other more prestigious beaches in South Florida – including Miami Beach – have been closed by order of the state.
The governor said it was important for people to have outlets for exercise, sun and fresh air.
DeSantis also said on Saturday that he had asked the Florida National Guard to expand its strike team to test people at high risk in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
“This is something really important,” he said. “What we have found is that everyone can do everything right in one of these facilities, but you can have a staff member who is not symptomatic, and that can go away and spread to ‘all staff and spread to residents very, very quickly. So we have, because of that, that’s why we have made National Guard strike teams. So we take them to different facilities where they do on-site testing or if we identify an outbreak to contain it so that it doesn’t spread like wildfire throughout the facility. “
As of Friday afternoon, there were 1,627 cases of COVID-19 in state long-term care facilities, including 87 cases in Clay County and 56 cases in Duval County facilities.
DeSantis said the state will eventually release the names of long-term care facilities to residents and staff who tested positive for COVID-19 in response to media requests for public documents.
“I think it will actually be double security because all of these facilities are necessary to educate families and to educate other residents and staff, and like I said, I think they all did that but all you need if you don’t do it. I think I would be, so I would like to know so that way, we put it there, “said DeSantis.
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