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.
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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