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Ron DeSantis, Betsy DeVos. Screenshot from FEA advertisement.

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Florida teachers slam Ron DeSantis on school coronavirus transparency

Teachers union wants supporters to write the Governor demanding more information.

The Florida Education Association in a new commercial slams Gov. Ron DeSantis for a lack of transparency regarding COVID-19 in schools.

A 30-second commercial criticized DeSantis for not providing more campus data on infections. The Association has also leveled criticism at Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran for aggressively pushing school openings without releasing more health information.

“The Governor and the Education Commissioner have been pressuring school districts and health departments to keep them from releasing relevant and important information about coronavirus in our schools,” said FEA President Andrew Spar.

“Like any parent, I have a right to know what is happening in my child’s school.”

The state’s largest teachers union recently sued the administration over a Corcoran order requiring all schools to reopen five days a week at the end of August. Courts ruled that order was unconstitutional, though the administration has appealed, prompting a stay. At this point, many districts that wanted to delay opening have gone ahead and opened schools anyway amid legal uncertainty.

The new commercial from the FEA slams DeSantis in the ad, which imposes his image alongside that of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

“Schools are open, and across Florida parents are wondering if their kids are safe,” a narrator says. “But we don’t know because as the virus spreads, those at the top aren’t giving us the information we need.”

“Instead, Governor DeSantis plays politics with our kids’ health.”

The FEA points to media reports in Duval, Flagler and Orange counties where Health Department officials say they have been forbidden by the administration from releasing specific information about COVID-19 infections in schools.

The advertisement closes with assurance teachers themselves have prioritized the health of students.

“Educators are keeping the learning going and working to ensure everyone’s safety,” the narrator states.

Then the ad appeals to individuals to text “SAFEKIDS to the FEA at 31996 to learn more. FEA officials say stakeholders will be urged to write DeSantis and call for greater transparency on the presence of COVID-19 in schools.

The television commercial hits airwaves in the Tampa and Orlando markets the same day The Washington Post noted a 34% spike in cases among school age children in Florida. That report also notes no information has been provided in many districts about outbreaks within specific schools.

The ad also comes within 60 days of the General Election. DeSantis is not up for reelection this year, but a number of Florida lawmakers in the Tampa and Orlando area will face voters on Nov. 3. And while there’s little context as to why DeVos even appears in the ad, her job is also on the line via the presidential race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
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