Counties and schools weigh plans to reopen as White House releases phased approach


TAMPA (WFLA) – President Trump released a set of guidelines for state governors on Thursday on how to reopen the economy.

The guidelines include safety measures like continuing good hygiene and social distancing, as well as implementing contact tracing and widespread testing on a large scale. Employers are also encouraged to minimize non-essential business travel, close common areas in businesses where people may congregate, and possibly implement temperature checks.

Schools should remain closed according to the new guidelines. But as states begin to consider re-opening businesses, many parents will still be stuck at home as long as kids are out of school.

“I think right now there could be a lot of angst, if we’re asked to come back, from parents and employees,” said Addison Davis, the new superintendent of Hillsborough County public schools. “But we’re ready either way. I’ll wait for the Florida Department of Education to give us direction and we’ll make an informed decision with the school board to determine what next steps will be.”

Earlier this week, President Trump said he had “total authority” to reopen the economy. Most legal experts are in agreement that he does not have that authority due to the broad powers afforded to the states through the 10th Amendment.

However, if Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to reopen school districts, there are legal questions about whether he has that authority within the state — and whether they can refuse if they feel it’s still unsafe.

“The answer is, as a practical matter, probably yes,” said Richard Harrison, a local government attorney who represents several jurisdictions around the Tampa Bay area. “Because I don’t know who’s going to force them to do otherwise.”

“Legally, it’s all very muddy,” Harrison said.

As long-time government attorneys wade through the legal issues–and possible future court challenges–economists are warning that the economy isn’t just a switch that can be flipped.

The American economy is made up of people, and how they feel about the safety of being back out in public will likely make the biggest difference in how quickly the economy recovers.

“More or less 70% of the economy is us,” said Dr. Michael Snipes, professor of economics at University of South Florida-Sarasota Manatee campus.

“It’s consumers, people spending money.”


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