Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday said Florida schools will remain open despite the latest health guidelines released by federal health officials.
“We have been open, we will remain open and we are not turning back,” DeSantis told reporters at the Florida Capitol.
The Governor’s vow comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released new COVID-19 guidance for schools.
Under the guidance, the CDC recommends hybrid, remote or virtual learning based on levels of community spread.
DeSantis contended the measures would shutter thousands of schools, many of which are already open for in-person learning. He estimated the guidance would shut down nearly 90% of schools nationwide.
“These kids have been out of school in parts of this country for almost a year and if you follow that CDC guidance, they will not go back in this school year and they may not even go back in the fall,” DeSantis prognosticated.
“That is a disgrace, that is not science,” DeSantis continued. “That is putting politics ahead of what’s right for kids. That is putting politics and special interests ahead of what the evidence and observed experience says.”
Notably, DeSantis crusaded to reopen schools during the early stages of the pandemic.
In July, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued an emergency order requiring schools to reopen in August for in-person classes.
Though the order was met with pushback from teacher unions, DeSantis contended schools are safe and warned about the negative impacts of closures.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls echoed the Governor’s sentiment.
“It is inhumane not to allow children to go back into the classroom to get an education,” Sprowls told reporters.
Last week, Sprowls encouraged school superintendents to locate and re-enroll Florida students who’ve vanished from classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sprowls said full-time student membership has decreased by more than 87,000 students statewide.
“Every day that goes by that those children are not learning, they’re falling behind,” Sprowls said alongside the Governor on Monday. “Every day that they fall behind, we fall behind and that’s why it’s been such a big priority for this Governor, and for the members of the Legislature to get the kids back in the classroom.”
Parents retain the option to allow in-person or remote learning.