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Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran Talks School Closings, Online Classes

Photo: Mike Fox @thefoxicon
Photo: Mike Fox @thefoxicon

With about 2.8 million Florida school kids home for at least the next month, K-12 schools are scrambling to pivot to online teaching. 

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced Tuesday that campuses will be closed until April 15, in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

WMFE talked to Corcoran about what the Florida Department of Education is doing to help teachers and students cope with the disruption. 

Read excerpts from our interview: 

On how the Florida Department of Education is supporting schools during the closure

"Now that we're doing everything remotely, educating remotely, now, it gives them just greater focus now, just to focus on delivering the education remotely as opposed to also worrying about the accountability aspects. That's a huge benefit. He's given us the authority to relax instructional hours as needed. All of these things are ways that we're working with the districts."

On whether there's enough national and local funding to help classes transition online

"You see that the President has been doing a great job, already announced a trillion dollar coronavirus funding, also gave $1.5 trillion to the to the Fed. So, all of those types of resources and financial resources are being made available and being made available quickly. What the governor did. When you release the money for Reading Scholarships, for the Reading Allocation, for Title Two, Title Four you're talking, tens of millions of dollars of flexibility immediately to the districts to help deliver that education remotely."

On the educational innovations that might come out of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic 

"So, you're gonna have great innovations. Every day, we have a different company who calls us and says, "We can help. And we'll do it for free, deliver this to." You know, Algebra Nation, ABC Mouse. We have just tons of companies coming to us saying, "Hey, we can do all of this online, and we're doing it for free because we got to get through this crisis." So, you're going to see all those innovations come about."

On whether April 15th is too soon for K-12 students to return to school campuses

"All of those guidances. We're following daily, hourly, the CDC guidelines. And so the CDC has said we're going to take it in 15 day increments and we're going to take it in 15 day increments based on the CDC."

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.