Florida teachers’ union sues state: Gov. DeSantis needs a reality check

Last week, People Magazine ran a story about teachers who are so scared about being made to return to classrooms that they’re preparing wills and last letters to their loved ones. People interviewed teachers with preexisting conditions who were scared for their lives. The National Education Association said “It is unconscionable that educators and parents are being asked to plan for end-of-life decisions because our country has no plan for reopening schools and institutions of higher education safely.” Thankfully the evil administration has dialed back plans to deport foreign college students who weren’t attending in-person classes, but public school teachers still face the choice of losing their jobs or risking their lives. In Florida, the epicenter of the pandemic, the state’s biggest teacher’s union is fighting back against doofus Governor DeSantis’ orders to reopen by suing the state. I especially like their statement about it.

The Florida Education Association accused DeSantis and other state officials of violating a state constitutional mandate to keep public schools “safe and secure.” The union asked a state court in Miami to halt the governor’s reopening edict, according to a copy of the suit obtained by NBC News.

The lawsuit, filed in state circuit court, names several defendants: DeSantis, state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the state Education Department and the State Board of Education. The legal filing is sure to escalate a nationwide political debate over reopening schools amid the pandemic.

“Gov. DeSantis needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one,” Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “The governor needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control.”

Corcoran issued an emergency order this month in which he said schools were “not just the site of academic learning” but also key places for “nutrition, socialization, counseling and extracurricular activities.” He said reopening schools was crucial to Florida’s “hitting its full economic stride.”

The order, which applies to the fall academic semester, requires schools to open at least five days a week for all students, subject to guidance from public health officials. DeSantis has recommended that all Florida schools reopen at full capacity. He argued that if they remained closed, parents would not be able to return to work.

[From NBC News]

While I understand that many children rely on school for meals, that the technology to learn virtually is not available to everyone and that parents need childcare to work, it seems too early to open schools now, especially in Florida. It’s not fair to teachers, staff or families and puts everyone at risk. Children aged 10-19 spread the virus as much as adults, no matter what DeSantis thinks.

The president of the Florida Education Association, Fedrick Ingram, was on CNN and that interview is below. He said that Governor DeSantis has not reached out to them at all but that they would gladly work with him to create a plan to return to school. They’re asking for really reasonable accommodations. They also want guidelines as to how to proceed when a student or teacher tests positive. They don’t know if or how long they’re supposed to quarantine or if the entire school or a single class should be quarantined.

My parents are retired teachers who are living in Florida and are thankfully adhering to strict social distancing. I get so mad every time I think about what they’re dealing with because of Trump, DeSantis, and other scumbag white men in power. I hope you and your family are safe.


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52 Responses to “Florida teachers’ union sues state: Gov. DeSantis needs a reality check”

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  1. Izzy says:

    Ron DeathSentence does need a reality check. Florida’s economy is driven by tourism, and people aren’t as willing to visit Plague Central right now.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      “Ron DeathSentence”

      HOLY SH*T that’s brilliant.

      • Izzy says:

        Thanks. It’s how I feel at the moment living in the 305. That, and agoraphobic because I won’t be ending my lockdown living anytime soon.

    • IMUCU says:

      We still have people from other states trying to come here, granted from places like Georgia which also isn’t doing well with the pandemic. I had relatives that wanted to visit I told them in no uncertain terms we would absolutely not be accepting visitors in our home. Some of the people I work with have had visitors. It’s really ridiculous. I work in a private pediatric office as a nurse, and we’ve definitely had younger kids and lots more parents being COVID19 positive. One of our nurses even thinks that all our high numbers here in the U.S. is bc of politics . A few of the staff would not wear mask at work if they thought they could get away with it bc, before the mandate, they weren’t when they were outside the office. Living in FL is particularly exhausting right now.

    • Lizzie says:

      Ha ha. Please send this to the LincolnProject!!

  2. Jellybean says:

    I am concerned. I know the size of the rooms I will be teaching in and the number of students that will be in the room with me. The students will be in bubbles, but the teachers will be moved around, meaning we will be exposed to about 200 people a day, in close proximity, who are not wearing masks. There is pressure on teachers not to wear masks because it may be intimidating and hinders communication. Added to that We have a lot of hearing impaired students who need to see our lips. How is this not going to be a cluster F***?

    • Eleonora says:

      That’s crazy.
      Sorry you have to go through that

    • Alexandra says:

      That is so scary. I’m so sorry. They do make masks with clear panels in them so that mouths can be seen. Hopefully you aren’t required to put yourself in any danger, but that’s an option for helping hearing impaired kids and staying safe(r).

      • Jellybean says:

        We have sound field systems in all the rooms. I am hoping that students who really need to lip read will be taken out – our hearing support centre and staff are excellent. We are being asked to resource all the lessons for distance learning, just in case, so it should mean they can work independently in college. I think I am going to get myself some medical grade masks and tell anyone who questions it to *** off.

    • Jess says:

      What the fuck, not wear masks?!? Screw that, do what you need to do, keep yourself safe.

    • Noodle says:

      @Jellybean, are you in Florida, or another state? I can’t imagine the stress of having to go back to the classroom now and not being given any sort of options. Many of my friends have had to choose whether to go back to modified schedules (1/2 time in classroom with 1/2 kids, rest of the time virtual; or, 100% virtual, but when they do go back to the classroom, they may not be sent back to their preferred/former site). It’s such an impossible choice.

      • Jellybean says:

        I am in the UK, so we have 6 weeks before we go back. We have been doing online teaching, combined with some teaching for vulnerable students, children of key-workers and exam classes. The numbers were small enough that it felt very safe. There are lots of safety procedures in place for September, but at the end of the day we will have all the kids in on full timetables. We will not have more teachers or larger classrooms and ventilation will still involve opening a window. Cases where I am a quite low, so fingers crossed.

      • Noodle says:

        @jellybean, I hope for your sake that the numbers stay low. I prepare teachers, and so many of my Candidates (going into student teaching, although how that is going to happen is a mystery) and graduates are contacting me, freaking out. I’m most worried for the teachers and staff, many of whom are older or live with older folks. It’s not just about keeping the children well; the whole system relies on keeping everyone well. Once the first few dominoes start to fall, we are going to see the whole system fall apart. In this scenario, we can’t just say “Oopsie, we got it wrong.” In the US, we are facing a teacher shortage and lower enrollments in teacher education programs; I don’t know why someone would choose the profession at this point in time given how little we seem to care for teacher health and wellness.

  3. Scollins says:

    Desantis is the moron who proclaimed WWE was an essential service. Desantis is the moron during a presser who put a mask on wrong, a strap was dangling from his chin. We Floridians are so fkd. I’m thinking about leaving and living somewhere else safer through the holdays.

    • H says:

      @scollins, leave now if you can. I have severe asthma and about a month ago had an asthma attack that landed me in the ER and the Covid unit. (Anytime you have breathing problems you will go into a Covid unit at a hospital). My primary care doctor advised me to leave Florida. I closed down my business and my house and left. It was not an easy decision, but it was the best one in order to make sure I didn’t get Covid in a state gone crazy with the virus and no competent leadership.

      Governor DeSantis is unable to handle this crisis in Florida. He will continue to push kids going back to school and no mask mandate until hundreds or thousands are dying every day.

      I’m now staying with my sister in a state that has a mandatory mask policy and their numbers are down. I don’t leave the house unless it’s for my p/t job and I get my groceries delivered. But, I absolutely feel a little bit safer here. DeSantis is going to be known as the guy who killed thousands of Floridians.

      • Cassandra says:

        “(Anytime you have breathing problems you will go into a Covid unit at a hospital)”

        Absolutely false, That’s a very broad statement that doesn’t apply to all hospitals. RN in a Florida hospital here. We’ve currently got two Covid regular floors. We have three ICU pods (out of 5) as covid ICUs. Our non-covid respiratory patients are being diverted to other covid-free floors. We are not cohorting covid + patients on the same floor as non-positives with the exception of the ER.

  4. Lexilla says:

    What worries me is the judge(s) who would hear this case.

    John Oliver made a great point about this in his Sunday show (too long to post here and I wouldn’t do it justice). Oliver makes a great point about everything.

  5. Jen says:

    I live in Florida. My best friend is a public high school teacher and I’ve been very worried 🙁

  6. indywom says:

    I am a retired educator. You don’t wait to the middle of July to tell schools to open in the middle of August. After schools closed in March, the Federal Government should have been developing guidelines for reopening. That plan should have been ready in early late May which would have given school districts time to plan. The Feds should have been sending PPE and testing supplies to local districts if they wanted in person learning. Unfortunately, too many states waited on a plan that was never provided and now it is too late to open schools safely for in person learning. Betsy Devos is an abject failure as Secretary of Education and I won’t even tell you what I think about Trump. The pressure to open schools reflects a callousness among our politicians since children of color make up most large school districts. Think what would have in their communities if these children would to become infected. These politicians don’t care.

    • holly hobby says:

      Where I live our public schools are mandated to start with distance learning. However, that’s not the same for private schools. I heard private schools are doing whatever they can to “skirt” the rules and open as business as usual. The school my child goes to thought installing uv lights and some kind of chemical fogger will allow the kids to attend like normal. Administration never polled the parents and they still haven’t revealed their plans. They gave us a patronizing letter of “we know what’s best for your child.” This is all about the allmighty $$$$ right now. This is a Catholic school and the only reason why I think they want business as usual is if the schools are open, they can reopen live Mass. All about $$$ and it pisses me off.

  7. TeamAwesome says:

    Schools ARE important because they provide so much besides academic education but good lord you would never know that by the way we treat them. The same people who are aghast at the thought of defunding the police have actively been defunding schools for YEARS.

    • Mel M says:

      Right?? Suddenly school is so freakin important (which I absolutely do believe and for more than just learning) that they are willing to force teachers, students and faculty to risk death, that’s on top of already expecting them to risk it at the hands of a gunman. Teachers have been buying supplies for their students with their own money for years and most need second jobs just to make ends meet. It’s so effed up.

  8. FloridaWoman says:

    Our Florida county sent out a survey asking how you’d like your student to return: educate via tele-learning; a mix of time in school and tele-learning; return to school. What was implied in the survey is that special needs children won’t receive extra support unless they return to the school building.

    • phaedra says:

      Lawyer up now, FloridaWoman. What they are “implying” is totally illegal. Get ready for a protracted battle.

  9. phaedra says:

    I am crying. Our country is literally on fire. Can the Americans all make a pact right here? We each get at least a dozen people to vote. Sew them masks. Drive them. Carry them. Volunteer at a voting precinct. No, not a dozen: 45 people: more symbolic. Each one of us here. (EDITED: I originally wrote “drag them out of their houses” to vote. I was being hyperbolic. Then I realized: oh wait, that’s what’s *actually happening* to people in our country. I can’t believe we’ve become our worst case scenario police state.)

    • Kkat says:

      I’m in California and I’m hoping none of my very large extended family vote, because they are all trumpers. One of my sister’s, my son and husband (and me) are the only ones voting for Biden.

      • phaedra says:

        I’m in the same boat. It’s so awful. So we need to get even more votes out there to cancel out the Fox News cult members.

    • Liz version 700 says:

      I will absolutely make that promise

    • Lizzie says:

      I’m in a red state so I never miss a chance to vote. It’s too important.

  10. Case says:

    Good. I do not see how reopening normally is safe or feasible in any way. Will they use contact tracing? If one kid gets COVID do they and all of their classmates, teachers, and friends stay home for two weeks? What about if a teacher gets sick? Then all of her colleagues and students stay home for two weeks? What about the poor sub who has to fill in for that teacher in the same classroom? Do they need to worry about teaching there?

    I understand childcare is an important component of schools reopening, but it sounds so unsafe and disruptive. Teachers cannot be asked to teach, babysit, and risk their lives to do so.

    In an ideal world, the government would send every single person a big check to encourage people to stay home until the ENTIRE country has flattened the curve. THEN we can talk about safely returning to normalcy.

  11. Queen Meghan's Hand says:

    Good for the union! Honest question I’ve been asking myself since so many teachers are in this situation:

    Would you take the chance of dying from COVID to keep your pension or lose your pension and know you won’t get COVID through working?

    • TeamAwesome says:

      I am beyond lucky to now be at the college level with a President who required masks for anyone on campus and 98% virtual instruction for the Fall. I have taught K-12, and if I still was there would be no question of not going back, and it isn’t because of my pension, it’s for the health insurance. As a music teacher I saw every. student. in the school. It is my literal job to stand in front of large amounts of aerosols coming from the mouths of singers. There was a recent virus outbreak in our area thanks to parents who didn’t want their darlings to miss out on prom. If we weren’t virtual for Fall I would be beyond terrified. But I wouldn’t be able to quit.

      • Queen Meghan's Hand says:

        My gosh. I can’t believe that some many people have to make this decision.

      • Vernie says:

        @TeamAwesome – Love your name and congrats on getting into a safer work environment. My sister is a choir director and music teacher in a public school and the district wants to shuffle her among four (!) buildings daily this year. She’s a single mom with a special needs child and I’m making contingency plans re: how to take care of her and her kids if she gets sick.

    • JanetDR says:

      I’m a speech path in a special ed preschool and not part of a teacher retirement system. I’m 63. I was planning on waiting on drawing Social Security until I was 66.5 to be sure I had enough but really questioning that now. I took this summer off when there was talk of in-person preschool. (We are 10 month employees, so it’s always an option but I always work at least part time for the cash flow as well as more in my 401k.) I feel like we can’t have in person school until we are all tested (work people or personal life). I don’t know of anyone who has been tested.
      Even my honey who is essential and had a coworker die of COVID has not been tested.
      We live in a part of NYS that has not been hard hit (rural, low population) but it’s here nonetheless.
      I am really hoping they decide to wait until Nov/Dec for in person school. I am not a big fan of teletherapy with my age group (mostly 2-4 years) but I would rather do that than be at school!

  12. Noodle says:

    I see the “Eliminating Common Core” election sign, and it all makes sense now. One of the Next Generation Science Standards that is taught and assessed in public schools deals with the ability to “Distinguish Science from Non-science.” So basically, the ability to tell when something is rooted in science and the scientific method, and when something is rooted in religion or white supremacy (faint whispers of “but muh freedoms!!!”). No wonder he wants to dismantle the education system in Florida; his political future depends on it.

  13. Meghan says:

    Y’all, my 9 year old niece got it and it has taken the past 2 weeks for it to slowly spread to the family she lives with. Her stepdad had been feeling crappy since she got it but this past Sunday it really hit him like a truck with the high fever and everything. So it’s not just like you can quarantine the child who gets it/tests positive for 14 days and then everything is all hunky dory. By the time that kid comes back, other kids could be starting to get the full brunt of the cooties. It’s going to be a vicious cycle of kids getting sick, even just with regular colds and sniffles and parents are going to have to be taking time off work (if they are even able to go back) to take care of the sick kids. WE ARE NOT READY FOR SCHOOL.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      It’s so true. Kids will get infected, they will share it with their family, teachers, and friends. The children will then feel the guilt of possibly being the one that transmitted the disease. They will struggle as their families become ill, as they lose teachers that mean so much to them.

      Eventually, it will go back to online learning until infection rates slow down. So they will put all of these resources into in-school learning, only to cause trauma and death, just to end up with online schooling anyway.

      • Dazed and Confused says:

        They will feel the guilt of possibly being the one who transmitted the disease — exactly. Kids always blame themselves.

        Also, there will be some kids who are outliers and do get incredibly ill — needing hospitalization, ventilators and some will even die. My question for all of these politicians who are so concerned about the socialization of students is, “what are the acceptable losses in terms of lives for children?” We already know they don’t care about the lives of the teachers, but if the number of children who can die is more than ZERO, there is a problem.

  14. Giddy says:

    I taught K-1 for years. Many people don’t realize how much touch is used and needed at that age. Kindergarteners get scared about starting school even when everyone isn’t in a mask. They want and need hugs and reassuring pats. I always had my kindergarten classes sitting in a circle on a rug in the classroom. Part of the reason for that is the reassurance they get from the physical closeness of their classmates. Yes, five year olds can be put at separate desks, but they will feel scared and isolated, and a lot of them will cry. Then, what do you do to comfort a crying child? Do they have to sit alone and frightened without the warmth of human touch? And what about the safety of the teacher? Those same frightened five year olds can spread Covid to their teacher. What a mess. I feel sorry and worry for the students, the teachers, and the parents.

    • Heylee says:

      Giddy, you sound like such a thoughtful, caring, and great teacher. Thank you for everything you have done! Your words honestly add support to my decision to pull my daughter from the public school where she was set to attend kindergarten. I instead enrolled her in a fully online public school where my sister is a guidance counselor. I will be sure to give her lots of pats and hugs of reassurance.

    • Mel M says:

      I feel the same exact way. My son is going to be in second grade and that isolation will be really hard on him and expecting him to wear a mask for hours at a time? Not even a possibility and not because he’s an a hole kid but he’s 7 and he already fidgets with things and couldn’t even handle wearing it for his doctors appt last week. He did wear it but it was all complaints and moaning. I fully believe in masks and have them for all of my kids and they do wear them on the rare occasion of having to go out in the public but it’s a half hour here or there. I just don’t trust him too and that’s not his fault. And the area that we live in, MAGA country, and the school he goes too that has done some super shady things since he’s been there and we were hoping to move districts but Covid hit, I do not trust the admin or teachers to be 100% enforcing about it. There are times in their re entry plan that gives the teacher the option on if they want their class to wear them or not which I think muddies the waters too much. Even if I want him to wear one all of the time regardless my second grader isn’t going to wear one when the teacher doesn’t care and his classmates don’t. They have giving the option of remote learning but there is a small piece of the plan where they can declare everything is fine and all students must attend in person even if you feel it’s not all fine. The catholic school in our district has zero plan for remote learning, has not plans to really switch the way they do everyday school including switching classes multiple times a day and have only suggested masks. It’s crazy around here. Since socialization and teacher student interactions and everything else that is a benefit of school is going to be gone i don’t see the point in sending him. The anxiety I will have everyday he leaves will be overwhelming. So that’s why I registered him for an online school for this year.

      My cousin has also just graduated college and gotten her first job teaching kindergarten this year. I feel so bad for her because I can’t imagine keeping a ton of five year olds away from each other and wearing masks and everything else when they have never been in an environment like this all day long. Maybe because she’s never done it she can adapt because she doesn’t know any different? Also her district is giving the option for remote learning at all times no matter what.

  15. Prayer Warrior says:

    From Twitter:
    Parent: hello, I understand we can choose how our children re-enter the school system or we can withdraw them completely?
    Authority: yes
    Parent: I’m withdrawing my son from the school
    Authority: Name and Grade?
    Parent: His name is *Whatever* and he’s in Grade 3. He’s the teacher, and I’m his parent…….

    I’m paraphrasing…theirs was much more succinct and specific and wryly funnier, but the sentiment struck me hard. Can you imagine an elder calling the school cause they don’t want their adult son/daughter to be forced into an unacceptable situation. Heart-breaking

  16. salmonpuff says:

    My husband is a teacher and we live in a not-very-hard-hit (yet) state, but our district has already decided to go back virtually. He’s disappointed, as he would really like to be with his kids — most teachers get into the profession because they like interacting with kids! But it’s total denial and wanton abdication of duty to reopen schools right now. And that is squarely on the federal government. If we had timely, adequate testing, adequate contact tracing, isolation of outbreaks, and money earmarked to ensure schools have adequate cleaning supplies, staff, substitutes, space, ventilation, PPE, etc. — sure, send kids to school. But we have none of that, and it sure looks to me like we’re not even aiming for any of it.

    For decades, our tax dollars and policy decisions have poured into punishment (police, jails) and away from nurturing (schools, mental health/health resources). Everything we’re seeing right now is just the natural continuation of those skewed priorities, and it sucks. I’m so angry I feel like I have a hive of wasps in my chest ready to swarm at any moment.

  17. Original Jenns says:

    He is fabulous. His show should be the national news.

  18. Lizzie says:

    The teachers have a union but what about everyone else? There are admins, cleaning staff, IT support and plenty of other people working in a school district.

  19. ClareV says:

    I’m in Southern CA where schools are closed for fall. The stress of the decisions my husband (who is also a teacher, and has underlying health conditions) and I were discussing prior to Newsom closing school was horrible. After the announcement that schools would start online, dozens of parents staged a protest at our schools. They accused teachers of not caring about the well-being of our students and being selfish. I just can’t anymore. I love my job, even made peace with the possibility of having to protect my kids of the case of a school shooter, but I won’t put my family’s health at risk when there are viable alternatives to in-person education. And I can’t believe that the community that I’ve dedicated my career to would ask that of teachers.

  20. Jezebeelzebub says:

    Denizen of the 850 here. I have no fucking idea what I’m supposed to do with my kid. She’s like me- She really needs the structure of a classroom if she’s going to learn anything. That being said, I’m also a nurse at one of the local medical facilities. I hate to break out the professional jargon, but in the words of one of our infectious disease specialists, “this Covid shit ain’t no joke”.

    It’s so fucked up here that I feel like I’d rather have her drop out of high school before her senior year and just do Adult High after either the assholery subsides or I can move us the righteous fuck out of here.

    • Joanna says:

      By 850, do you mean area code 850? If so, I’m in that area too!

      • Jezebeelzebub says:

        Yep, in the Panhandle. It’s about some bullshit here, huh? BTW, if you want Mexican but havent had El Asador, GO THERE TODAY. You’re welcome.

  21. Joanna says:

    I live in FL. Went to meet my friend at a Mexican restaurant. Figured there would be social distancing, every other table seated. Haven’t eaten inside at a restaurant for months. Oh no! Not only was every table filled, I only saw one person wearing a mask, he was getting food to go! I said to him, these people are crazy and he agreed. I ate outside, on the patio with just me and my friend. Some of these people are just insane. How do you see it spreading all over the US and other countries and conclude it’s a political scam? How can people be so ignorant? I signed up w shipt for delivery, I’m done ! I’ve never stayed home so much but these idiots are making it continue.