Florida State Board of Education meets to discuss reopening schools as teachers protest outside

Coronavirus

TAMPA (WFLA) – Hillsborough School Superintendent Addison Davis says he will recommend to the school board the start of school be delayed by two weeks.

Hillsborough Schools were scheduled to open on August 10 now Davis says he will now suggest schools reopen on August 24.

Davis also announced a partnership with TGH and USF Health that he says will help reopen schools safely. The subject of reopening schools across the state was addressed Wednesday at a meeting of the state board of education at Strawberry Crest High School.

Few teachers or members of the public were at the meeting. Alternating rows of chairs in the auditorium of the school were taped off to maintain social distancing and members of the board sat far apart from each other.

Outside, teachers worried about what will happen when students come back and social distancing isn’t possible.

“If we rush back to brick and mortar schools, its inevitable that teachers are going to get sick. As teachers get sick, there won’t be enough teachers to teach the students and we’re going to have to go back to E-learning anyway,” said teacher Scott Hottenstein.

Gov. DeSantis told the board, Florida families need options.

“We are also in a situation where we need to provide as many options to parents as possible in terms of the education of their kids,” said DeSantis who believes the risk for students is my low.
“I am really amazed at the extent to which people under 18 are low risk for this,” said DeSantis.

At the end of the meeting, one teacher did manage to stand in front of the board and lecture them about her fears of reopening schools.

“What is the acceptable number of children and teachers and staff that will die when we reopen our schools? Is it one death, is it five deaths, a hundred deaths? What is the acceptable number that will shut our schools down again and then they won’t be able to take any tests. The U.S. Secretary of Education has a number, it’s 14,470 children expected to die in the U.S. when we reopen schools. Is that a risk you are willing to take with your children?” said middle school teacher Jessica Harrington.

Harrington and many other teachers believe students, teachers and staff are at risk if schools reopen,.

“They are just kind of taking a gamble here, saying you know what, we don’t think they are going to spread it, go back to classroom, let’s see what happens, but as soon as one teacher dies, or one child dies, it’s going to be on them,” said Harrington.

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran says students will fall behind if they are not back in class.

“There is a greater harm both physically and mentally to a child not having an opportunity to go to a classroom than you are seeing from this COVID outbreak,” said Corcoran.

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