Written by @kristenshylin_
With more 360,000 coronavirus cases, Florida remains the epicenter of the resurgent COVID-19 cases across the country.
The Florida Department of Health reported 10,347 new confirmed cases as well as 90 more deaths on Monday. Despite the growing number of confirmed cases, the state government is still following Donald Trump’s order to reopen schools next month.
As a result, According to NPR, the largest teacher and education workers union in Florida, the Florida Education Association, has joined worried parents to sue the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis, and the Miami-Dade local government in hopes of blocking the reopening mandate.
Members of FEA argued that the reopening of school amidst surging cases violates the Florida Constitution, which requires the state to ensure school safety.
The lawsuit stated that the Department of Education’s emergency order goes against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which openly condemns reopening schools.
The teachers union said the state’s mandate of reopening campuses “without the proper plan, resources, and safety precautions will inevitably exacerbate the spread of the virus, jeopardize public health, and ultimately cause longer closures.”
According to the International Business Times, FEA President Fedrick Ingram would like to settle an agreement in court that will give school districts more flexibility in reopening plans. He added that decisions regarding reopening schools should be made at the local level instead of by the state government.
Ingram said schools should not reopen until the surging cases subside.
“Until we get control of the community spread until we understand that our schools will not be superspreader events, we have got to get rid of this hell or high-water approach in opening up our brick-and-mortar schools,” he said.
The FEA created an online petition against the school reopening mandate. The petition has already received over 16,000 signatures.
When asked about the new lawsuit, the Florida governor supported the school mandate but referred to it as a “recommendation, not a requirement.”
“I didn’t give any executive order,” DeSantis said. “That was the Department of Education.”
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran released a statement, calling the lawsuit “frivolous” and “reckless.”
Corcoran added that he believes the FEA “hasn’t read nor understands” the emergency order, which provides an online option for “families to have the choice to decide what works best for the health and safety of their student and family.”