Florida's public schools will remain open for in-person instruction in the spring but parents will still have the option for virtual learning, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday.
Speaking at a news conference in Kissimmee, DeSantis said all districts will be required to continue in-person learning for the rest of the school year.
"We will continue to offer parents choices for the spring semester and every parent in Florida can take that to the bank," DeSantis said.
DeSantis said schools will be required to notify parents if a student is struggling with virtual learning, and the student must return for in-person learning unless the parent opts to remain in virtual learning.
"The data and the evidence is overwhelmingly clear. The virtual learning is just not the same as being in person," DeSantis said.
The state switched to virtual learning at the end of the 2019-2020 school year but reopened schools during the 2020-2021 school year.
Florida was approaching 1 million COVID-19 cases Monday, as infections in the state have been rising in recent weeks. Despite the uptick, DeSantis was critical of other states that have closed their schools, saying it offers little in terms of virus mitigation.
"I would say that closing schools due to coronavirus is probably the biggest public health blunder in modern American history," DeSantis said. "People who advocate closing schools for virus mitigation are effectively today's flat-Earthers, they have no scientific or evidence support for their position."