TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday Florida schools should never close again after they had to go virtual for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
DeSantis provided an education and coronavirus update in Jacksonville on Tuesday with Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. During the briefing, DeSantis said he made it a priority in July to get kids in Florida back into the classroom for the start of the new year after the last school year ended virtually.
“The evidence was abundantly clear then, and it’s obviously even more clear now, that schools are not drivers of spreading coronavirus and schools need to be open,” the governor said. “It is a bad public health policy to have schools closed.”
An emergency order signed by the education commissioner in July ordered all Florida schools to reopen for in-person learning at least five days a week. Most districts approved plans to offer options for families to choose between in-person learning or virtual learning.
DeSantis noted Tuesday that all 67 counties in Florida have reopened schools for in-person instruction and said more than 60% of students are back in classrooms.
Shortly after schools reopened in the Tampa Bay area, most local districts set up dashboards to track coronavirus cases among students and staff members. The Florida Department of Health later released its own report on cases in schools.
Moving forward, no matter what happens, Gov. DeSantis said Florida schools should not shut down again.
“Going forward, whatever the future may hold, school closures should be off the table. They don’t do anything to mitigate COVID but they do cause catastrophic damage to the physical, mental and social well-being of our youth,” he said. “Let’s not repeat any mistakes of the past.”
Full update from Gov. DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran:
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