As the number of students arriving at Florida schools has surged, parents and officials are facing questions about the long-term impact on attendance.
The Florida Department of Education said Tuesday that it was postponing scheduled attendance tests in the state until August.
The department said it was responding to a request from Broward County School District that it suspend tests for students who failed a reading and math test last week.
That would include all students from kindergarten through grade 12 who were on their parents’ schedules.
The state said it would also withhold a certain amount of money from students who were scheduled to attend classes.
In Miami-Dade, some parents said they were upset with the state because it had not set aside enough time to get a full slate of tests in place, leaving some students behind to struggle.
“It is frustrating because I thought we were going to have some more testing, that we were not going to get the results and the answers,” said Debra Ewing, whose two sons, ages 10 and 7, have been scheduled to be in Miami-Fort Lauderdale to attend a school for special needs.
“We’re going to be waiting for the results of the tests until August, which I think is a little bit too late.”
The state is also postponing testing for all students whose attendance was set for August through mid-October, as well as for those who had a late-term appointment.
The district said that students with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma, should be able to continue to attend school.
Students from low-income families are especially at risk because their families often work to pay for them to attend, said Doreen Williams, who has three children in high school.
She said she is concerned about the timing of those tests because many students come to school during the summer.
“It would be good if we could get more testing done before summer starts, but I just don’t think we are getting there,” Williams said.
The Florida Department for Education said it did not plan to extend testing to all students for the second time this year.
That decision was made to avoid creating more time for students whose schedules were disrupted by the storm.
In Miami, where many parents have called on school districts to suspend or cancel their classes in light of the storm, many are wondering how many students will be in the district’s classrooms for the long haul.
The district is planning to use its data analytics to look at attendance data for all of its students, including students who attend school as part of their special education program.
If attendance data shows that students are performing below their peers, then schools can adjust their schedule accordingly, district spokesman Greg Anderson said.
Many parents have been frustrated by the lack of updates on enrollment data for students, and some are considering postponing classes to avoid the disruption.
Florida’s Department of Health said Tuesday it is working with parents and students to help determine how best to accommodate students in the meantime.
“Our goal is to be ready to help parents, students, school employees, and the public during this time, so that they can focus on learning and being safe and supportive,” said Dr. Amy Oleson, director of the department’s office of health services.
Officials said they would work with school districts, parents, and teachers to make sure students are not being impacted during the storm’s aftermath.
Follow Ryan Saavedra on Twitter: @RyanSavedra