Volusia teachers union seeks more COVID-19 protection before students return

School starts Aug. 31

It’s one step forward for the Volusia United Educators Union, a day after a judge decided it’s unconstitutional for the Florida Department of Education to force brick and mortar schools to reopen by Aug. 31 amid the coronavirus.

”We’re very happy with the judge’s decision,” Union president Elizabeth Albert said. “Now, local school boards are actually given back that local control so that they can, as the constitutional officers make those decisions regarding what’s best for their communities.”

Albert said the district needs to provide a safe and healthy place for teachers and students, which includes issues involving social distancing in classrooms and having enough PPE kits for staff.

[Everything you need to know about Volusia County’s back to school plan]

"In some cases, the supplies are limited and these items are on back order. Kids are coming in the matter of days," she said.

The state has already appealed the judge’s ruling but Albert said it doesn’t affect the school board to start a conversation about other options. This, after the local teacher’s union declared an impasse Tuesday morning, regarding the school district’s re-opening plan.

"If we get into the beginning of our school year, and we realize which I believe that we will, that this is not working that we can't swing the doors wide open, it will provide alternatives to that five day a week brick and mortar," said Albert.

The Volusia County School Board briefly discussed the lawsuit during a workshop meeting. Board member Ruben Colon explained that schools can safely reopen now that there’s a decrease in Covid-19 positivity rates from 12-13%, down to 5.3%, according to local health officials.

“When the American Association of Pediatrics or the Florida Chapter said return back when it’s five percent and so on and spoke about having these mitigating factors,” Colon said.

News 6 was also invited to tour a classroom on Thursday to see how the district is prepared for school to start.

Volusia County begins the school year Aug. 31.

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