Coronavirus: Florida Governor announces schools will stay closed, continue distance learning

Press conference also addressed ways state will begin to open after being shuttered because of virus

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives an update on the state's coronavirus response on Tuesday. (News4Jax)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Students throughout Florida will not be going back to school and will continue distance learning until the end of the school year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Saturday during his COVID-19 press conference.

“Our K-12 schools will continue with distance learning for the duration of the school year,” DeSantis said. “We spoke with a lot of folks throughout the state. There were some differing opinions. Some parents were not interested in their kids going back, some others were. It’s been tough around the house they would like to see them go back . . .“I think the last thing you want to do is force everyone in school and have half the kids not show up because their parents didn’t want them to go,” he said.

He addressed how distance learning has been working around the state and said "we have pretty good momentum for distance learning. It’s obviously not the ideal situation, but given where we are in the school year, we felt that that was the best decision to go forward.”

DeSantis also spoke about an announcement he will make Monday. He is forming a task force that will focus on Florida’s “rebound and resurgence.”

“It will have a number of folks from businesses, industries, it’ll have folks who are elected officials, we’re going to announce the members of the task force on Monday, which will also be the first day that the group will meet by telephone task force will develop a three-stage approach to react to opening the state: short-term, medium-term and long term," DeSantis said.

He said some of the members will be county mayors from South Florida to be part of the task force.

The group will be focused on how to reopen businesses, schools and other disruptions caused by the coronavirus shut down.

"We want to see people back to work for the long haul. We want to continue with Florida's economic development strategy."

(The full video can be seen below)

DeSantis press conference - Saturday

WATCH LIVE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis makes a major announcement regarding COVID-19 from the state capitol building.

Posted by WPLG Local 10 on Saturday, April 18, 2020

He emphasized that the new phase will not be opening up restrictions for “huge crowds” to gather. “Not right away. If you let people know what the expectations are, most people have been pretty respectful of that.”

But there are also many other looming questions for the governor and his task force, which he mentioned.

“What do theme parks look like, travel into Florida, not just we want people from Ohio to come here, not just international people coming here? How are the airlines going to handle it, cruise ships. How is that going to fit into this? They say they want to start in June... These are things that we need to be smart about,” DeSantis said.

As a sign of the state slowly coming out of the coronavirus shutdown, North Florida beaches opened in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. The beaches are opened for limited hours and only for walking, running and swimming. No sunbathing.

As far as protesters who are pushing for restrictions to be lifted, DeSantis said: “I’m with them. We’re working on it… I think people are going to be responsible and safe, but they want to get into a routine.”

About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local