Amid the first reported coronavirus cases in Central Florida, some local school districts have called off field-trips involving air travel and are taking steps to ensure students can continue their education online if needed.
Public schools in Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Volusia, Seminole, have canceled all field trips requiring air travel immediately for the rest of the semester.
The changes were made at the recommendation of the Florida Department of Education Tuesday.
“Following a call with the Florida Commissioner of Education this morning and based on his strong recommendations, all school board approved student field trips involving air travel will be suspended immediately through the end of the current school year,” a news release from Brevard County Public Schools said.
Marion County Public Schools still plan on allowing field trips to New York and Washington, D.C. but are reviewing distance learning options should schools close.
In Volusia County where two individuals have tested positive for coronavirus, the district has intensified the daily cleaning and disinfecting of all classrooms, schools and buses, according to a news release.
An email sent to Volusia County families Monday included a survey asking about home technology accessibility for students.
“This is to determine how many of our students have computers, wifi and printers available at home in the event schools have to shut down for an extended period of time,” Volusia County Schools community information specialist Frank FitzGerald said in an email.
There is no plan to close schools at this time, FitzGerald said.
All other school districts were also working on online learning options.
“Learning will continue,” if schools close in Osceola County, officials said. The District is working with IT but didn’t have specifics for a plan yet.
Seminole and Orange County students could continue their education through the districts’ learning management system called Canvas, officials said.
“These resources will allow classroom teachers to provide continuous instruction,” Seminole County Public Schools communication officer Michael Lawrence said. “In addition, we do operate our own Seminole County Virtual School franchise and can piggy-back if necessary on Florida Virtual School as well.”
Florida colleges and universities are also taking precautions.
The Florida Institute of Technology closed its Spring 2020 graduation ceremonies to the public.
“We are canceling the Clemente Center ticketed ceremonies in favor of graduates-only ceremonies in the Gleason Performing Arts Center,” Florida Tech President Dwayne McCay said in a news release. “These smaller ceremonies will be webcast live, video-recorded and photographed, but will not be open to guests.”
The University of Central Florida announced plans to modify ''how it does business,' with potential for employees working remotely and students taking classes online."
UCF launched a website this week with tools to help faculty members with online course delivery, according to a news release.
The University of Florida sent an email to academic deans Monday asking all faculty to be prepared to teach their courses online and recommended: “instructors move their course from face-to-face to online effective immediately, wherever possible.”
According to the Florida Department of Health, there were 20 Florida cases as of Tuesday morning: 14 people diagnosed in Florida, five Floridians who have been diagnosed after traveling to China and are being isolated in another state and one non-Florida resident who is recovering in the Sunshine State.