Opponents of school reopenings faced an electoral reckoning Tuesday
Image via AP.

school bus
Voters made their answer clear.

Florida students have been learning from home since the coronavirus pandemic first began, and whether and how they can go back to the classroom has been the subject of vigorous debate.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran have harped on the need to get children back on campuses, directing county school boards to come up with reopening plans and get the doors open ASAP.

They’ve gotten some flack from all sides, including a lawsuit from the state’s largest teacher union, and as school districts have polled parents on their wishes, the results have often been mixed.

There was no gray area on Tuesday.

Even though there weren’t any questions about reopening schools on primary ballots, voters made their answer clear.

Across the state, voters flocked to candidates who supported reopening school campuses this year and rejected those who pitched another nine weeks or more of virtual learning as the best course of action.

In Hillsborough County, incumbents Steve Cona, Lynn Gray and Tammy Shamburger face runoff elections after voting to keep schools closed despite more than half of parents making clear to the board they wanted their kids back in the classroom.

In Okaloosa County, Superintendent Marcus Chambers squashed a comeback bid by Ray Sansom almost solely defined by his vigorously opposition to Chambers’ reopening plan. It wasn’t even close.

In Polk County, School Board member Billy Townsend is on his way out of office after falling to political newcomer William Allen 52-48.

And in Jefferson County, Eydie Tricquet is set for the general election ballot, where she’ll appear alongside incumbent Marianne Arbulu. Arbulu may have switched parties to avoid embarrassment on Tuesday, but given the trends it’s likely she’ll be switching jobs in November.

The returns show that the sentiment is the same in red counties, blue counties, small counties and large counties: Parents want their kids in schools and anyone who stands in the way will face a reckoning at the ballot box.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


  • Brittany

    August 19, 2020 at 10:41 am

    As a resident of Okaloosa County, I think we were more concerned with Ray Sansom stealing tuition from students rather than his school reopening plan. Also, there is already a good system set in place for reopening – the virtual option is there for each 9 weeks, the school board has purchased enough masks (including clear masks for speech and language depts), sanitizer, and even desk dividers for all of the classrooms. There should be an option and there should be extra safety precautions put in place, and there was. Not all of Florida is full of idiots rejecting virtual school, but it did need to become an option for some parents and teachers.

  • dwest

    August 19, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Is this reporting or an opinion op-ed? 4 counties out of 67 and several of those moving to run-offs only make one thing “Clear” and that’s that the headline and writing don’t have any backing data. If this is an option piece fine, I don’t have kids, so no dog in this hunt, but damn that’s some sloppy writing.

  • Ronald

    August 19, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Polk county news wasnt that parents for opening brick and motar that got Billy Townsend defeat it wasMONEY BIG PUBLIX ,THE POLL THE JACKIE BRYD. SUOERINDENT DID TO SEE EVENLY VIRUAL OR BUILDINGS SO YOU DONT KNOW WHAT GOES ON IN POLK COUNTY,AND WE HAVE THE 6TH HIGHEST DEATH RATE IN FLA from this deadly virus!The plan we have isnt going to work flu season mixeed with crowd school bues says it a crisis in own making come full force toward polk and the governordesantis and wacky trump

  • RVR

    August 19, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    This might be the worst article I’ve ever seen on FloridaPolitics… we expect better from Peter’s crew.

Comments are closed.


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