Central Florida teachers unions support keeping schools closed

FEA sends letter to Governor urging to keep schools closed for the remainder of the school year

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020, file photo, custodial staffer Hortensia Salinas uses an Electrostatic Clorox Sprayer to spray disinfectant in a classroom at Brownsville Early College High School in Brownsville, Texas. Closing schools to combat the spread of the coronavirus is having a sweeping impact on an annual rite of spring: the standardized tests that are dreaded by millions of students and teachers alike. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald via AP, File) (Denise Cathey, Copyright 2020)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Central Florida teachers unions said they support a letter the Florida Education Association sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis asking him to keep schools closed for the remainder of the academic year.

Wendy Doromal, the president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association, said educators are concerned about schools possibly reopening next month.

“We’ve received call after call and emails from members very worried about returning to school. Not just worried for themselves, but very concerned for their students’ health and the health of their own children and family members and the health of the community and returning so soon,” Doromal said.

Doromal said she supports the letter the president of the Florida Education Association sent to DeSantis on Tuesday urging him to keep schools closed through the end of the school year.

She said social distancing is impossible in schools and it is dangerous to go back now. She adds some teachers reached out to her saying they wouldn’t return even if schools reopened on May 4.

"Teachers are afraid to go back. They don't think it's a wise decision at all or it respects the safety and health of the community and the students and the teachers," Doromal said.

Apryle Jackson, the president of the Osceola County Education Association, agrees and said it's unsafe to return to schools while there are still concerns over COVID-19.

"We don't have a handle on it yet and until we're sure the opportunity for it to spread among children is close to zero, it's not a very good idea for us to go back to school," Jackson said.

She adds students are adjusting to distance learning and it is not worth going back to school for a few weeks.

“It would be like starting the school year all over again,” Jackson said. “If we were to go back and we only have three to four weeks left of the school year after May 1, so let’s just finish up what we’re doing now. It seems to be working and that’s what’s best for our students.”

Jackson added she hopes students can return back to school in the fall.

News 6 contacted the governor's office asking if he made a decision on reopening schools, but we have not heard back.

DeSantis addressed schools reopening during a news conference on Tuesday.

"We haven't made a decision yet. Obviously it's going to be based on safety, it's going to be based on consultation with folks, the superintendents, the parents," DeSantis said. "We're just in a situation where we've got to see where we're going. It doesn't mean they are going to go back, but I think we just need to get down this road a little bit further."

Doromal and Jackson are encouraging parents to contact the governor’s office and share their thoughts on schools reopening.