Florida teachers union files lawsuit to stop DeSantis from reopening schools as coronavirus cases surge
Written by kslmadmin on July 20, 2020
One of Florida’s largest teachers unions filed a lawsuit Monday to stop Gov. Ron DeSantis and state education officials from the “reckless and unsafe” reopening of schools for in-person classes amid surging coronavirus cases.
The Florida Education Associated (FEA) filed the lawsuit in state circuit court in Miami against DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the Florida Department of Education, the Florida State Board of Education and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
The suit alleges that the July 6 emergency order requiring all public K-12 schools in the state to allow on-site classes is a violation of the Florida Constitution as COVID-19 infections continue to surge statewide.
The FEA called the current conditions regarding coronavirus in the state “unsafe” for in-person learning and contended the move is “to protect health and well-being of students, educators and communities.”
“Gov. DeSantis needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram in a news release. “The governor needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control.”
Coronavirus infections have skyrocketed in Florida over the past weeks. On Sunday, the state reported 12,478 new positive COVID-19 cases and 87 deaths. Florida has a total of 350,047 cases and 4,982 deaths since the outbreak began.
The move to reopen schools in August was also met with concerns from the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents 2,600 pediatricians in the state.
Dr. D. Paul Robinson, president of the FCAAP executive board, wrote a letter to DeSantis last week pleading with him to reconsider the reopening.
Robinson said viral infection rates in Florida are “extremely high,” with a rolling average of over 14 percent during the last two weeks. He said most health experts recommend children be kept out of school until the rates fall between 3 and 5 percent for two weeks.
While the FEA agreed that distance learning is not optimal, it said that protecting the safety of children and adults on school campuses is its priority. The organization also cited a new study from South Korea that found kids between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus as easily as adults.
“Everyone wants schools to reopen, but we don’t want to begin in-person teaching, face an explosion of cases and sickness, then be forced to return to distance learning,” Ingram said. “Florida’s Constitution demands that public schools be safe. Teachers and parents want our schools to meet that basic standard.”
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