Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday that schools would remain open and in-person instruction will continue despite rising coronavirus cases in Florida.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
The governor made the announcement shortly afternoon during a news conference at Boggy Creek Elementary School in Kissimmee.
"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 was joined by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and announced a new executive order related to students struggling with virtual learning.
"Parents must be notified if a student is struggling with virtual learning, still providing the parent the option to do virtual learning if they want, but they need to be notified, and the student must return to in-person instruction unless the parent affirmatively opts out and says they want to still remain virtual," said DeSantis.
The new executive order continues the requirement that school districts offer in-person learning and contains school district funding protections.
"The data and the evidence [are] overwhelmingly clear: the virtual learning is just not the same as being in person," the governor said.
The governor defended his strategy to keep the state open, saying Florida's increase in coronavirus cases has not been anywhere near the spike in other states.
DeSantis said he has been busy working on how to distribute the vaccine in the state, traveling to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Operation Warp Speed.
He again shot down a state mask mandate and lockdowns, saying they have not been effective in other states.
"I'm opposed to mandates, period. I don't think they work," DeSantis said. People in Florida wear [masks] when [they] go out. They don't have to be strung up by a bayonet to do it."
The state reported Sunday that there had been 992,660 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Florida, placing it only behind Texas and California.
DeSantis said Monday that hospitals in Florida are currently treating about 4,000 people for the coronavirus, as opposed to about 10,000 people during the summer.
The governor has not held a news conference in almost a month, speaking on Nov. 4 following the election.