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State Encouraging In-Person Learning for Students Falling Behind

January 4th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

Tens of thousands of parents across the state are receiving letters informing them that their children are falling behind in school and should consider switching from online to in-person learning.

The letters are mandated by the latest emergency order put in place by the Department of Education, but ultimately the choice to stay online or return to the classroom is up to the parents.

In some counties like Escambia, more than 80 percent of virtual students are getting one.

“We want to make sure that the parents are aware of the challenges they might currently be facing,” said Andrea Messina, Executive Director of the Florida School Boards Association.

Messina said she’s not ready to say the high percentage of students receiving letters is evidence virtual learning hasn’t worked.

“The true actual data that’s reliable is not yet available,” said Messina.

The Florida Education Association said this school year has been difficult for students across the board.

“Even kids in school are struggling more than what we typically see. There’s a lot of stress on our students. There’s a lot of stress on the system as a whole,” said FEA President Andrew Spar.

We reached out to the Department of Education and asked how many students across the state will be receiving letters like this one, but were told those aren’t numbers the department is tracking.

And Messina said if you do receive a letter, it’s not required you send your child back to the classroom.

“But by getting the letter, our hope is that there’s an increased sort of awareness and diligence on the part of both the school and the home to make sure that the student has the most supportive learning environment,” said Messina.

The School Boards Association said each district spent the winter break fine tuning their plans for operating amid the pandemic.

The Association is hopeful those efforts will result in better outcomes for both virtual and brick and mortar students.

Under the new emergency order, schools will still receive full funding for virtual students, the same as in the fall.

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