Best Practices for Distance Learning

Best Practices for Distance Learning

From Commissioner Corcoran

On March 9, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-52 – Emergency Management – COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and declared a state of emergency for our state. In response to this Executive Order, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) unveiled available information and resources for students, parents and school districts during the extended spring break for students as they transition into distance learning.

Florida’s school districts responded to this call with inspired attitudes and tremendously innovative plans for distance learning to ensure students have a seamless transition to this new way of “going to school.” District best practices can be found here.

Not only are districts responding, but private companies and state agencies are offering many services for free or at a discounted rate for our state’s families and students. You can see from our Resources for Families page, there is an extensive list.

You can find more CO-VID19 Updates on our FDOE Emergency Response page.

Considerations when Building an Instructional Continuity PlanConsiderations for Equity and Access Among StudentsConsiderations for Students with DisabilitiesConsiderations for English Language Learners (ELL)Cybersecurity GuidanceFree Internet & Communications ProvidersVirtual Classroom Resources

Considerations when Building an Instructional Continuity Plan

  • An Instructional Continuity Plan is a plan to continue education in a virtual or alternative setting.
    • Districts currently have learning management systems that can be utilized to continue instruction in an online format. This may include video or audio instruction in which the primary communication between the student and their teacher is via an on-line platform, instructional television, video, or other instruction that relies on computer or technology.
    • Florida Virtual School (FLVS) has partnered with FDOE to offer all school districts student support and teacher professional development tailored to the online learning environment.
    • District staff should develop or perfect their instructional continuity plan to prepare for the return of students, instruction and prepare for the testing window that has been pushed back. This should include providing training and professional development for their teachers to implement their unique Instructional Continuity Plan as seamlessly as possible. Each district and school will be different in their plans for online learning, keeping in mind that not all children and families will have access to devices, internet, or the online instruction may not meet the needs of every student in the same way.
    • FDOE is available to assist schools and districts with their plans

Elements of the plan might include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Short- and long-term goals, preparing for an unknown length of time currently planned for the school campus to be closed
  • Plan to assist teachers in analyzing the course sequence so that they can develop a plan to cover the content and standards necessary to complete the planned syllabus and provide training on how to continue to deliver instruction
  • Spectrum of delivery options for the various grade levels, such as a fully online curriculum or online curriculum with individual or small group interaction with teachers
  • Continuum of delivery methods, such as a combination of technology, innovative use of other media (such as television), paper packets, or onsite meetings for a limited number of students, consistent with social distancing requirements
  • Plan for how to allow teachers to engage with one another to collaborate on offerings for students, exchange of effective practices, or adjusting approaches to ensure engagement with students.

Best Practices Among Our Districts

You can see more best practices by our Florida school districts here!

Miami-Dade County Shares their Instructional Continuity Plan

Considerations for Equity and Access Among Students

  • In these difficult times, we cannot lose track of the needs of our most at-risk students. Although many families have the devices and appropriate connectivity in place, many may not. Alongside their continuity planning, schools should build in an assessment of access to devices and internet connectivity for their students and in the community.
  • Schools should assess how all students will be able to access e-learning, looking at all of the following factors:
    • Do they have access to the internet?
    • Do they have access to a device or what alternatives exist for them to access a device?
    • How familiar are your students with the device and necessary support to ensure they are familiar with navigating its features
  • Several companies have offered their services at no or a discounted rate to assist in building a bridge for equity and access among all students. You can find that listing of Access and Internet Resources here.

Considerations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities are particularly vulnerable, and continuing support from the state’s educators is critical during these uncertain times. To the greatest extent they are able, it is important schools tailor distance learning to provide educational benefits to their students with disabilities.

U.S. Department of Education (DOE)

The Department stands ready to offer guidance, technical assistance, and information on any available flexibility, within the confines of the law, to ensure that all students, including students with disabilities, continue receiving excellent education during this difficult time.

Considerations for English Language Learners (ELL)

Below are a list of resources by grade level specific to ELL’s.


Middle School

High School

All Grades

Cybersecurity Guidance

As school districts and colleges are transitioning to online education, please be aware that cyber security hackers are indeed poised to capitalize during a crisis. Below are things you can do to protect yourself and your school district or college:

  • Make sure devices are up to date on anti-virus protection.
  • Use multi-factor authentication on any accounts for which it is available.
  • Only work on secure, password-protected internet connections.
  • Avoid accessing any confidential or sensitive information from a public WiFi network.
  • Be aware of phishing emails designed to entice you to click on the latest and greatest offer related to coronavirus protections, or with urgent instructions from your boss or co-worker. The intent is to get you to unsuspectingly download malware onto your device and the district or college system.
  • Avoid using Bluetooth in a public place – it is an easy way for hackers to connect to your device.
  • Be sure to report any lost or stolen device immediately to minimize the risk of fraud.

Tips are adapted from “Be Extra Vigilant About Cybersecurity During a Crisis”, Harvard Business Review.

Free Internet & Communications Providers


AT&T has expanded eligibility for its low-cost internet program & new customers get 2 months of free service. In addition to SNAP recipients, the expansion covers households participating in the National School Lunch Program & Head Start. Learn more -

Unlimited AT&T Home Internet

All AT&T consumer home internet wireline customers, as well as Fixed Wireless Internet, can use unlimited internet data. Additionally, we’ll continue to offer internet access for qualifying limited income households at $10 a month through our Access from AT&T program. We’ve expanded eligibility to Access from AT&T to households participating in the National School Lunch Program and Head Start. Additionally, we’re offering new Access from AT&T customers two months of free service.

Additionally, to help keep families connected during this uncertain time, AT&T is also funding 60 days of free access and unlimited usage of Caribu, a video-calling application that allows family members to read, draw, and play games with one another while in distant locations. The Caribu application, which integrates children's books, coloring activities, and games will be available to families across the country and around the world, free of cost, for the next two months.


Microsoft is offering a free 6-month Office 365 G1 Trial, including Microsoft Teams, is now available. Microsoft is making this special G1 Trial license available for the US government, in response to the increased need for employees to work from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Office 365 and Teams can help bridge the communication gap between educators, students, parents, and guardians by enabling virtual classes and access to assignments using at-home devices.

Additionally, Microsoft Teams can enhance, augment and compliment any existing emergency learning plans so that districts can spend less time on the “how” and more time on the students, families and educators impacted by this challenging situation. Please see other helpful resources for Microsoft Teams below:


Comcast is offering free Wi-Fi, postponing service cutoff for coronavirus crisis. A map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots is available at For those with school-age students at home, Comcast created new educational collections for all grade levels in partnership with Common Sense Media. Customers say “education” into their X1 or Flex voice remote to use. Xfinity will not be charging late fees to for customers that are unable to pay their bill due to impact from COVID-19.

  • Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. View a map of available hotspots, here. Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots, and then launch a browser.

Cox Communications

New customers will receive their first month of service free. Offer available through May 12, 2020. Remote customer service support at no charge between now and May 12, 2020. In-home modem included.

  • $9.95 per month (plus taxes)
  • 10 Mbps
  • No term commitment
  • No deposit
  • No installation fee


Charter Communications, Spectrum’s parent company, announced Friday that beginning March 16, it will make its services available for free for 60 days to households with K–12 and/or college students who do not already have internet through the company. Optional in-home Wi-Fi service at $5/month.

  • Free Internet modem
  • High-speed Internet at 30 Mbps
  • No data caps
  • No contracts

Enterprise Solutions for Tele-Education (PDF)


Within the next 60 days, current customers will have unlimited smartphone data (excluding roaming), an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot / tethering service, and extra free data up to 5GB of data per month. Increasing the data allowance for free to schools and students using our EmpowerED digital learning programs to ensure each participant has access to at least 20GB of data per month.


Sprint made general announcements that for the next 60 days there will be no disconnects or late fees. Other deals available are:

  • Complimentary international calling rates from the U.S. to countries defined by the CDC as Level 3
  • Metered data plans receive unlimited data for 60 days and an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot data per month for 60 days


Verizon is not charging late fees and terminations of service until 5/13/20. All Activation and Upgrade Fees are being waived if they were purchased from My Verizon Online, Telesales, Customer Service, Chat, or Authorized Retailers. Free International Calling will be offered to countries identified by the CDC as Level 3.

Century Link

Century Link has waived late fees and terminations of services to residential or small businesses for the next 60 days. All data usage limits are being suspended for consumer customers as well.

Virtual Classroom Resources


Remote Learning Using Apple

As K–12 and higher education institutions around the world adopt remote learning, Apple has new resources to support you.

Apple is offering a free 90-day trial of Final Cut Pro:

Virtual one-on-one coaching sessions with Apple Professional Learning specialists are available for free to help educators hone their approach to online student learning and workflows. Send an email to to request a virtual coaching session.

To support your transition to an online learning environment, we created the Apple Education Learning Series. Presented by the Apple Education Leadership and Learning teams, each video is designed to help educators use the built-in features of their Apple products to enable remote learning for all students.

As a follow-up to the series, educators can also participate in virtual conferences led by Apple Professional Learning Specialists. Visit the virtual conferences schedule to find events. Virtual conferences are available in English only. Email for more information. Find best practices for how to clean your Apple products here.

The App Store has curated the Learn and Study From Home collection to help educators and parents get the most out of their Apple products. In addition, we invite you to follow us on Twitter @AppleEDU for chats with other teachers about remote learning, and join the Apple Teacher Learning Center to stay up to date on using Apple products and services.

Dell Education Strategist

Dell EMC K-12 Education Strategists are focused on supporting school districts as they design transformational models to support the future readiness of students. Dell strategists include former educators with extensive backgrounds in successful implementation of technology and learning initiatives.


Creating A Google Classroom

Google is allowing G Suite for Education customers to use the Hangouts Meet premium functionality for free through July 1. Groups can host virtual meetings, including live stream and recording capability.

ZOOM / Clever

ZOOM/Clever are partnering together to provide a premium video conferencing experience, completely free to all districts experiencing school closures. If your district is closed, or planning for a closure, you can request a free Zoom account for your district by filling out the form linked here. Zoom accounts set up through Clever can help teachers conduct online classes with these features:

  • No time limit on class sessions
  • Single sign-on via your Clever Portal
  • Support for PCs, Macs, Chromebooks, iPads, Android phones & iPhones


Adobe is giving at-home access to Creative Cloud through May 31, 2020, for schools and colleges who currently have only lab access for students, at no additional cost.


Affinity is offering a free 90-day trial of the entire Affinity suite, 50% to those who would prefer to purchase Affinity and a pledge to engage more than 100 freelance creatives for work.


Flipgrid is 100% free for all educators, learners, and families. Engage and empower every voice in your classroom or at home by recording and sharing short, awesome videos together!

OTIS for Educators

OTIS is offering free professional development for educators and teachers and they have a series of webinars for Remote learning. This includes, but not limited to SMART Learning Suite Online, Google, and Microsoft Teams.

The LEGO Foundation

The LEGO Foundation is offering The Playline, which allows virtual educator meet-ups, and live programming via ZOOM with ways to keep young learners engaged and educators connected!

Monique Burr Foundation

Monique Burr Foundation is a nonprofit that offers in person child protection and child advocacy trainings across the State of Florida. In order to accommodate during these times, these training programs are being offered as live streams or recorded sessions for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.


From now until the end of the school year, any teacher that needs it can freely access Newsela’s full suite of products to assist with their learning continuity plans. We’re also offering frequent professional learning resources to help them develop their mastery of distance learning techniques.

Google For Education YouTube

Zoom’s YouTube

Microsoft Education YouTube