THE NEUTRAL ZONE
Florida’s largest teachers’ union filed a lawsuit Monday against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and other Florida officials to halt the reopening of schools. The lawsuit also named the Education Commissioner, the Florida Department of Education, and the Miami-Dade County Mayor.
The FEA’s lawsuit argues that resuming in-person classes violates the requirement of “safe” and “secure” public education in the state’s constitution. The union claimed schools should remain closed as COVID-19 cases rise in the state. The suit calls for Florida to”develop and implement an online instruction plan aimed at all children and to make internet connectivity and computer devices available to all students … so that they can meaningfully engage in virtual instruction until it is safe to reopen brick and mortar schools.” Florida Education Association president Fedrick Ingram told NBC’s “Today” that over 23,000 children in Florida have tested positive for coronavirus. Additionally, Ingram noted that while most teachers are usually excited to go back to school, many educators are considering retirement or changing careers this year due to the risk.
Corcoran issued an executive order on July 7 compelling all “brick and mortar” schools to be open five days a week to all students. While DeSantis said Tuesday that the case count in Florida may soon trend downwards, Florida announced 9,440 news cases Tuesday with a total of over 77,000 new infections over the last week. The state set a single-day record of over 15,000 cases the previous week.
In a report released last week, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said that while “weighing the health risks of reopening K-12 schools in fall 2020 against the educational risks of providing no in-person instruction,” returning to in-person learning should be prioritized by school districts. Many public health experts acknowledge children are less likely to get infected with the novel coronavirus and tend to develop mild symptoms, though they are not immune. However, a study out of South Korea suggests older school-aged children can spread the coronavirus more than those under 9 years old.
Florida Teachers Union Sues to Stop School Openings amid Virus Surge – National Review – 7/21/2020
Florida Education Association president Fedrick Ingram said the governor “needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one” in a statement announcing the lawsuit. […] In response to the suit, a spokesperson for the state Department of Education said in a statement that the FEA “hasn’t read nor understands” the emergency order. Spokesperson Taryn Fenske asserted that the order doesn’t issue new directives requiring school to open, but reiterates Florida’s law calling for campuses to operate 180 days a year.
Teachers’ Unions Push Back Against Reopening School This Fall – The American Spectator – 7/21/2020
We cannot entirely eliminate the risk of COVID-19, but the long-term effects of an inadequate education on children must also be considered. In a report commissioned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, dozens of researchers concluded that not reopening schools could have a deleterious effect on childrens’ social development. For those students with special needs or in the socially developing grades of kindergarten through fifth grade, the study strongly recommends a return to in-person schooling. Online learning, the study found, was a poor substitute for easily distracted younger students.
Head of Florida teachers union says teachers might not show if schools reopen – Washington Times – 7/21/2020
Fedrick Ingram, president of the Florida Education Association, on Tuesday said teachers might simply not show up if schools open as planned for in-person learning next month amid the coronavirus pandemic. […] He indicated that some teachers are weighing whether they should retire or change professions right now.
Republicans are risking lives to reopen schools – The Week – 7/21/2020
Some Republicans are so desperate for the coronavirus pandemic not to be a thing that the party’s leading elected officials are proving themselves ready, willing, and able to gamble with the health of America’s children, their teachers, and families. Parson isn’t alone among Republicans in downplaying the problems that could come with opening schools. On Monday, the Florida Education Association filed suit against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to block his efforts — despite a massively surging COVD-19 case load — to force open that state’s schools.
Rick Scott on Twitter, 7/21/2020: Our school districts are working hard to make sure they can keep students and teachers safe. All states should follow Florida’s lead and make sure schools give parents the opportunity to make the best decisions for their family.
Sen. José Javier Rodríguez on Twitter, 7/20/2020: .@GovRonDeSantis’ Education Commissioner issued a reckless order requiring schools to physically open, citing the Gov’s emergency powers. Now that a lawsuit is filed, the Governor has yet again pulled his favorite card — avoid responsibility at all costs.
Rep. Matt Gaetz on Twitter, 7/20/2020: The guiding principles in Florida and throughout the country on school reopenings should be parental empowerment and parental choice.
Jen Perelman For Congress on Twitter, 7/20/2020: Thank you @FloridaEA for putting our children first. #Florida should be going into statewide shutdown to curtail #COVID19, much less opening up our schools too soon.