Florida to extend distance learning options for spring semester, education commissioner says

ORLANDO, Fla. — On Wednesday, the Florida commissioner of education said a second emergency order will allow for innovative distance learning options, like Orange County’s LaunchEd@Home or Seminole’s Seminole Connect.

That’s good news for families who want to continue with distance learning in the spring.

However, an executive order to allow innovative options is still being finalized.

Districts also have a lot of unanswered questions including questions about funding.

Watch: 50 students, staff quarantined after 4 people test positive for COVID-19 at Orange County elementary school

Students currently in those innovative options get fully funded as if they’re learning face-to-face, but it’s as yet unclear if that will stay the same.

During Wednesday’s meeting in Tallahassee, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said there will be an extension of the executive order that allowed districts to provide online learning options.

A superintendent and a board member urged the commissioner to make sure districts get full funding for students in the innovative modules.

He did not say if that would be the case.

Watch: Where are toilet paper, paper towels? Stores seeing shortage again as COVID-19 cases skyrocket

Corcoran made it clear he thinks face-to-face is best for kids. and if a child is struggling with distance learning, he wants a new executive order to make sure that’s addressed.

“The kids that are in certain modalities of education and we’ve already seen through our progress monitoring that they’re falling short,” Corcoran said. “We need to make sure either massive interventions are done for that child or they’re moved to a different modality that’s safe for their family.”

Keep in mind this is happening as another Orange County school, Horizon West Middle, had to pivot to its distance learning option because of multiple COVID-19 cases.

Watch: Horizon West Middle School pivots to online learning due to positive COVID-19 cases

OCPS has had to pivot a total of nine schools this school year to distance learning because of the virus.

With cases increasing, the district’s medical advisory committee thinks keeping the option for parents is key.

Corcoran said a new order could come before Thanksgiving, which is about a week away, or by the end of the month.

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.