A Florida Judge Charles Dodson has temporarily ruled out the reopening of schools for in-person classes in Florida and describes the reopening as disregards to safety. He granted a temporary injunction which will give the individual districts the power to decide when to reopen.
The judge said that the Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran prioritized the reopening of schools in August across the state over safety and also ignored the advice of health experts. He said that all the districts had to comply with Governor Ron DeSanctis’s order to avoid loss of state funding.
Corcoran issued emergency order at the start of July that all the districts shall open ‘brick and mortar schools’ for at least 5 days in a week for people who are willing to send their children back to school, or else the districts will lose already-allocated funding. The Florida Education Association, the largest teacher’s union in the state, along with teachers and parents immediately filed a lawsuit against the order saying that the order violated the provision, that the schools operate safely, which is in Florida’s constitution.
The ruling by the judge on the reopening of schools was seen as a victory by the American Federation of Teachers, which is the 2nd largest teacher’s union in the country, and one of its associates, the Florida Education Association. They sued Richard Corcoran along with Governor Ron DeSanctis, which is the first lawsuit of its kind in the United States.
During the hearing, the unions presented testimony from the teachers and public health experts concerned about risking the health of students and teachers. One teacher said that he would rather quit the job than to get his family exposed to the virus, another said that his doctor had warned that the coronavirus may threaten his life but he can not afford to leave the job.
The president of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten said that in this pandemic none of these things are great victories but it’s a reprieve on human life. He further said that the decision by the judge to stop the reopening of schools was pushback on a reckless disregard of life, on politics overtaking safety, and on the science and well-being of communities.
Corcoran defended the state’s aggressive approach to the reopening of schools and saying that the coronavirus transmission rates are going down significantly and that the consequences of keeping children at home are much worse than the risk posed to them by covid19. He further said that the fight has been and will continue to be, about giving every parent, teacher, and student the right to choose regardless of what educational option they choose. He was 100% confident that he will win the lawsuit.
DeSanctis has reopened the state’s economy and now wants the reopening of schools too. However, cases of coronavirus in the state are startling with more than 600,000 cases and 10,397 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The spokesperson to DeSanctis Fred Piccolo said that he and his team will appeal against this ruling and are confident in their position and in the authority of the commissioner Corcoran and the governor DeSanctis to do what is best for the students.