Florida Education Association suing governor over reopening schools

Lawsuit claims having in-person classes is unsafe

TALLAHASSEE – With the start of the fall semester just weeks away, the Florida Education Association has filed a lawsuit against the governor and other state leaders claiming that reopening schools in August will create an unsafe environment due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Miami, names Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez as defendants.

The FEA alleges that although in-person instruction is the most effective for students, opening up classrooms in August could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases and put teachers, students and other on-campus staff at risk of becoming ill.

“Gov. DeSantis needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one,” FEA President Fedrick Ingram wrote in a news release. “The governor needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control. He needs to accept the evolving science. It now appears that kids 10 and older may pass along the coronavirus as easily as adults. Everyone wants schools to reopen, but we don’t want to begin in-person teaching, face an explosion of cases and sickness, then be forced to return to distance learning. Florida’s Constitution demands that public schools be safe. Teachers and parents want our schools to meet that basic standard.”

The lawsuit points out that schools were closed in mid-March when Florida had around 300 documented COVID-19 cases. As of Monday, 360,394 cases and 5,183 deaths have been reported in the state since the pandemic began. Florida has also seen daily increases of at least 10,000 cases since earlier this month.

“I don’t know if it is Trump that is whispering or breathing into his ear, I don’t know if it’s Betsy Devos, I don’t know who it is,”Randi Weingarten said, Weingarten is the President of American Federation of Teachers.

On July 6, Corcoran issued an executive order calling for schools to reopen in August. The order states that reopening is subject to advice from local health officials, however, the lawsuit claims that doctors who have tried to speak out against opening classrooms have been silenced.

The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have expressed support for the lawsuit.

“The reason the FEA is filing this suit is along with other people who care is because we don’t want it to cost a life. It’s not too late to do this safely and to have a plan,” Lily Eskelsen Garcia President of National Education Association said.

To read the document in its entirety, click here.

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