Florida’s largest teachers union sued Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday over his administration’s plan to reopen schools for the fall semester next month even as coronavirus cases continue to spike.
The Florida Education Association’s lawsuit argues that the state’s order for brick-and-mortar schools to open five days a week for in-person teaching violates the constitutional mandate to provide a “safe, secure” environment
“Gov. DeSantis needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one,” Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram said in a statement.
“The governor needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control.”
The lawsuit, which names DeSantis, state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the state Education Department and the State Board of Education, argues that the reopening of schools will not allow officials to “safeguard the health and welfare of Florida public school students, educators, staff, parents, and the general public.”
“Without the proper plan, resources, and safety precautions will inevitably exacerbate the spread of the virus, jeopardize public health and ultimately cause longer closures,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit also cites New York’s reluctance to cement a plan and promise of “flexibility,” even after effectively flattening the curve.
“There is no rational basis for ignoring science and evidence-based data,” the lawsuit reads.
“Health experts have rejected Governor DeSantis’ claims that the risk for students is ‘incredibly low.’ Further, they caution that the long-term health effects for children who contract the virus are largely unknown, and that even asymptomatic children have experienced lung damage from the virus.”
Since Florida began reopening, the outbreak has soared, up to more than 365,000 positive cases in Florida residents as of Monday. At least 5,200 residents have died so far.