Polk Co. school board member calls for Florida schools to close amid coronavirus crisis

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – On Friday morning, some little ones at Gorrie Elementary School in Tampa’s Hyde Park laughed and had a ball on the playground.

Public schools in Hillsborough County, like others in Tampa Bay, were open all day, with many districts set to close next week for spring break.

It baffles Polk County School Board member Billy Townsend. He wants schools statewide shut down.

“My concern is large,” he said Friday, via FaceTime.

Townsend pointed to the dozens of events and organizations shutting down amid the coronavirus crisis.

“We shut down every other mass gathering, except schools, which are probably the most important one,” he said.

Townsend sent messages to Gov. Ron DeSantis and to Florida Department of Education leaders, urging them to close schools for at least a couple of weeks.

In Pasco County, Superintendent Kurt Browning posted a video message on social media.

“If we have to close a school or all schools, we have prepared a plan for distance learning, so that we can remotely focus on teaching our students,” he said.

Other districts are warning parents and students to get ready for that way of life, which is possibly in the near future.

In Manatee County, workers spent the day disinfecting furniture and surfaces in classrooms.

All across the U.S., state leaders have shut down schools from Michigan to Oregon to New Mexico.

“I think they should be closed. It’s spring break coming up anyway. I’d close them now,” said Susan Cottingham, a Tampa resident.

Florida leaders announced to families that any student or staff member returning to a school after a cruise cannot do so. They must self-quarantine for 14 days. The same goes for anyone returning from an out-of-country trip. That directive applies to any country in the world.

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