No school choice: Schools must open for fall semester
Senate President Bill Galvano and Gov. Ron DeSantis make it clear that schools will reopen in August. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Some school board officials have questioned the order's authority.

The Department of Education’s school reopening order left some question about whether schools had to reopen come August.

Senate President Bill Galvano left no room for doubt.

“Yes, the answer is yes. The DOE cannot be ignored … must be adhered to,” he clarified. “School boards cannot ignore this order.”

Sitting alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis at a Saturday press conference in his hometown of Bradenton, the top Senate Republican fielded the question when the Governor was unable to give a confident answer about the order issued Monday by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

“The order specifically says five days availability, brick and mortar schools at full capacity,” Galvano said.

Members of the Manatee County School Board, including Vice Chair Charlie Kennedy, disputed this week that individual districts had to adhere to the Commissioner’s K-12 schools order, according to the Bradenton Herald.

“This is another one of those Richard Corcoran edicts that he probably doesn’t have the actual power to make,” Kennedy said. “I think there’s going to be some legal questions.”

As COVID-19 outbreaks spike in Florida, the Commissioner’s mandate said extending school closures can impede students’ educational success and prevent parents and guardians from returning to work. And in addition to getting Floridians back to work, DeSantis said children are missing out on critical face-to-face education.

“The main thing is, what’s in it for the kids? What harm is going to be done by continuing to keep them out of school?” DeSantis asked.

The Governor has credited the state’s distance learning apparatus with keepig Florida’s students ahead of the curve amid the pandemic. And other states have asked Corcoran for advice in implementing their virtual school platforms, DeSantis added.

“As much as we’re proud of that, look, there’s an achievement gap that’s developed. There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “That will only be exacerbated as long as this happens.”

Children make up one of the smallest cohorts for positive infections, and an even smaller share of hospitalizations and deaths. As of Saturday morning, 12,599 of Floridians’ quarter million COVID-19 diagnoses are in those younger than 15. Of those, 157 have been hospitalized and two have died — both 11.

With a low risk for severe infection, DeSantis says he would have no problem sending his children to school if they were of that age. Additionally, he says studies show and other countries have seen that children are not the main vectors for the novel coronavirus.

“That’s I think pretty clear in terms of the data and the facts, and if people have other facts that they can show, I mean, I’m happy to look at it, but we’ve looked at this six ways,” he said.

And the Governor emphasized that local governments and elected officials are instrumental in collaborating on what the reopening looks like within each school district. Galvano agreed.

“This is not just a one sentence order. It’s very comprehensive,” the Senate President said. “A lot of time went into it. Commissioner Corcoran wanted to give direction.”

In mid-March, the Commissioner advised schools to close for the next month before subsequent orders advised that they stay closed through the school year. However, those announcements left the final decision up to school districts.

After unveiling portions of the state’s school reopening plan in the past few weeks, Corcoran’s order now leaves the decision to parents regarding whether their child will attend in-person classes.

That mandate came within hours of a tweet by President Donald Trump demanding that schools open for the new school year.

Since the end of the lockdown days of the pandemic, DeSantis has sought to reframe what makes an essential service, those deemed critical enough to stay open. To business owners, any and all businesses are essential he said, calling the essential label an “illusory distinction.”

On Saturday, he continued rethinking what constitutes an essential service.

“Most businesses still operated, you had most of them across the state of Florida, you had things that operated every day,” the Governor said. “I think in terms of if you look at things that are the most essential, to me, education is as high amongst them as I can fathom. It’s very, very important.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at r[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • RVR

    July 11, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    Florida Constitution pretty clear about where the authority lies to run schools and it isn’t with the State. It resides with the local school boards.

    • Clare Chapuis

      July 14, 2020 at 12:29 am

      That is all fine and good, but DeSantis is still passing the buck and in the end he/Trump will be responsible for sickness and possible death. Pure and Simple

  • Tjb

    July 11, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    Will the state pay for frequent Covid testing of students, teachers, and the care givers of the students? Also, pay for any medical expenses of this group if they get Covid 19.

    • Clare Chapuis

      July 14, 2020 at 12:31 am

      Unfortunately DeSantis/Trump don’t care. Schools should not open with a raging virus

  • Cecilia Amick

    July 11, 2020 at 10:06 pm

    I am a bus operator in Escambia County Florida. The concern is students will not be mandated to wear masks. Also, children on the bus are to ride full capacity, although we do not know how many will continue in brick and mortar attendance.
    I do not know if I will continue transporting children as I fear for my safety and a person residing with me who has COPD. While I understand the importance of children returning to school, the precautions such as mandating masks for the safety of all should not be taken lightly. The argument is children will not keep them on, or touch their face. I understand much planning and thought is at work to navigate with uncertainty, but that is exactly what we are up against.
    Wish me luck.

    • Clare Chapuis

      July 14, 2020 at 12:33 am

      I said the SAME THING. How are we supposed to get children and bus drivers safely to school and back in the first place. I do wish you luck.

  • jon

    July 12, 2020 at 3:03 am

    Now we have gone retard pandemic! The kids are safe, if the teachers are compromised…. take a leave of absence!

    • Jules

      July 12, 2020 at 4:27 pm

      Can’t have school if no teachers show up…Teacher’s Union is fighting this as we speak..Safety first…They have nothing in place. Seriously while numbers are climbing throughout Florida State. Need to get rid of DeSantis

      • Clare

        July 14, 2020 at 12:37 am

        Amen to that. Where is the teacher’s union aren’t they suppose to lobby for a safe workplace? AND DESANTIS NEEDS TO GO! TEACHERS AND STUDENTS THAT ARE ABLE SHOULD BE SHOUTING IN THE STREETS THAT WE WILL NOT BE DESANTIS/ TRUMP’S SCHOOL EXPERIMENT

  • DisplacedCTYankee

    July 12, 2020 at 5:25 am

    Cecilia: I don’t know how old you are. I guess you could be 25 or 70. Regardless, if I were you there is NO way I’d drive a bus full of kids, which has to be a germ farm in the best of times. These are the Covid Times. I’m sorry you have to make this awful choice, but — choose life.

  • Larissa

    July 12, 2020 at 9:10 am

    No, schools should not open. They should stay virtual for the time being. If this fool of a governor would have done his job, maybe we COULD go back. But since our governor never did his job properly, teachers, children and school workers will not be sacrificed as a result his lack of leadership. Remove him from office. we need more than a puppet running our state.

  • Sonja Fitch

    July 12, 2020 at 10:25 am

    Cockroach Corcoran and duffus Desantis do not have the authority to demand our children be used for their sociopathic goals! Neither one of these two could teach 10 first grade children for 30 minutes! Local school boards will serve and protect their local children!

  • RMF

    July 12, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    You are correct on that. It isn’t with the state. It resides with the school board. We are in the midst of a major Pandemic. Our children will not be made as sacrificial lambs for the economy. The teachers union will be fighting this along with parents. If Desantis needs some direction look at what happened in New York back in March through May…It was deadly. Ask any New Yorker…

    • Sonja Fitch

      July 12, 2020 at 5:28 pm

      Worried enough about our children. New report from CDC. Children may be asymptomatic! The concern is the children will pass the virus and because of the large numbers of children the catchers of their virus may cause a 65% death rate. Got to goggle this! This is reason enough to have schools stay closed

  • Lisa

    July 12, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    I am extremely disappointed with the entire political personnel that is running this state not to mention the higher ups…
    I for one am not sending my daughter to school she will continue todo digital learning until I FEEL IT IS SAFE. The same goes for my grandson.

  • Gabrielle

    July 12, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    We as teachers exist because of the parent/guardians. We don’t have a job if we don’t accept their terms. Parents have the last say in all decisions. The question is what are we going to do? (Educators, administrators, parent coordinators, teacher’s aides, administrative assistants, superintendents, coaches, school safety offers, crossing guards, educational assistants, coaches, support staff, reading specialists, counselors, and custodians.)

    Children at two camps, two employees at YMCA, and staff members at the camp were all infected with Covid 19.

    Do we want furlough, layoffs, in person or remote? Nonessential workers of the DOE want in person because they get paid. They are supporting brick and mortar.

    Essential works will get paid if the parents choose remote learning. Teachers and one administrator per building, one superintendent pr district and one chancellor, and a few educational assistants.

  • Tonita

    July 12, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    So our children are being used as guinea pigs in this so called experiment to open schools in Florida? The one in the White House is not infected with the virus or nor is anyone in his family. You can talk once you are not infected. This is so flipping scary beyond words. Desantis is so ineffective as a governor. I blame him for all this rise in positive cases in our state. For every person that dies in this state is at his hands and that dumb ass in the White House. REINFORCE PEOPLE WEAR MASKS. IT SAVES LIVES.

  • Kai

    July 13, 2020 at 9:43 am


  • Willieboi

    July 13, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    Recall de santis to stop this madness. Vote him out. Protect the children

  • Kurt

    July 13, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    I agree with many others. Our child will be in a private Christian school and will taking all his classes virtual online. We fear the risk of him getting the virus and bringing it home to infect the whole family. And with both mom and dad being at high risk, that could put our kids in a situation in which they bury both parents. You say this is an extreme’ scenario. But you’d be wrong because it has already happened. I believe only virtual schooling should available. When a vaccine is created, then we will all feel more comfortable with our kids going back to school physically.

  • Calvin

    July 13, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    Disantis and Corcoran can say anything they want about getting kids back to school. However, the biggest factor is the parents of the school kids. If they don’t feel the school is safe, they won’t send their kids to school.

    With the virus exploding in Florida, is there a parent willing to send their kid to school? Gees, I am so glad both of my kids are done with k-12.

  • Clare

    July 14, 2020 at 12:27 am

    DeSantis willing to make sick or kill students,teachers,and families in order to do Trump’s bidding SHAMEFUL AND CRIMINAL

  • Karan Duggar

    July 17, 2020 at 10:42 am

    Why give authority to school boards and then threaten those same boards with loss of funding if they choose virtual. Basically Desantis is saying sure you can go virtual but you will lose funding if you choose that option.

Comments are closed.


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