Parents, teachers wait as legal battle over reopening schools continues

Parents and teachers are still waiting for a Tallahassee-based judge to make a ruling on the legality of in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It may even happen as early as tomorrow.

While parents and teachers are saying it’s not legal for schools to offer in-person learning, state leaders say parents should have the option for in-person learning as schools are slowly and safely reopening.

Thousands of kids are getting ready for their first day of class in many Central Florida counties come Monday.

The state’s largest teachers union and even a few Orlando attorneys are suing Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s education commissioner.

They’re saying legally it’s just not right or safe for now to reopen schools for in-person learning five days a week.

They also believe the reopening process ought to be controlled more on a local level.

“In reality, the Orange County school board should go back and create a plan of their choosing, rather than somebody in Tallahassee,” said Billy Wieland, an Orlando-based attorney.

Both sides laying out their arguments during testimony last week.

The state making the point that in-person learning is only an option for now, and that parents should have that option.

And there has been steps to keep everyone safe, they say.

“Hundreds of thousands of masks and other PPE supplies that we’ve gotten from the state, as well as the federal government, (are there) to help us implement our plan,” said Dr. Scott Hopes, a Manatee County School board member.

The state also said there has been steps to keep everyone safe, and that in-person learning is only an option. 

They also relied on witnesses, like an Orange County mom, who testified about what she calls a regression in learning.  

“He’s really regressed and there’s all there is to it,” Jennifer Tribble said of her son. “We’re going to start back over in 2nd grade.”

Closing arguments wrapped up Friday.

A judge could decide this week, after asking both sides to submit their ideal reopening plan.

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