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DeSantis: Keeping schools closed will cause more harm than good

Jaymi Butler

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Ron DeSantis
Governor Ron DeSantis said that keeping schools closed for in-person learning could widen the achievement gap.

As sentiments against reopening schools for in-person classes continue to grow, Governor Ron DeSantis urged Floridians to “not let fear get the best of us and harm our children in the process.”

During a six-minute speech late Wednesday, DeSantis stressed the need for parents to have “meaningful choices” when it comes to their children’s education. He also said that the risks in keeping schools closed could create more challenges for students, including widening the achievement gap and causing more kids to drop out of school.  

“Our kids are at the least risk from this virus and much lower risk than seasonal influenza,” DeSantis said. “Our kids also play the smallest role in transmission, yet it is our kids who have borne the hardest burden of the controlled measures instituted to protect against the virus.”

DeSantis went on to say that many teachers are “champing at the bit” to get back in the classroom. Those who don’t feel comfortable returning to teaching in person or are at higher risk should be given the option to work remotely, he said. 

Teachers aren’t necessarily in agreement. On Monday, the Florida Education Foundation sued DeSantis and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, among others, to block the reopening of school for in-person learning. An emergency order, issued earlier this month, said all school districts must open brick and mortar schools at least five days a week for all students. The lawsuit refuted DeSantis’ claims that health consequences for children who contract Covid-19 are mild and that they’re rarely responsible for spreading the virus.

On Tuesday, Pinellas County school superintendent Mike Grego proposed pushing the school start date back 12 days to Aug. 24. The school board will vote on his recommendation July 28. DeSantis said that if individual school districts need to delay in-person reopening a few weeks, they should “have at it.”

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