Florida Teachers Sue To Block School Coronavirus Reopening Mandate

Florida education officials have ordered all schools to open on time this year, but a group teachers are now suing the state to block the order, saying it violates the Florida Constitution that mandates schools are operated safely.

“In a lawsuit filed in Miami, the Florida Education Association (FEA), joined by teachers and parents, says the Department of Education order defies recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reopening schools safely. Besides [Florida Education Commissioner Richard] Cocoran, the lawsuit also names the Florida Board of Education, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez as defendants,” National Public Radio reported.

The emergency order, issued this month Corcoran, mandates all school districts “must open brick and mortar schools at least five days a week for all students,” but does allow local school superintendents and school boards to make the final decision. Still, the order says funding may be dependent on reopening and schools that are approved for reopening by the state will receive full funding.

But the FEA says the state’s constitution requires state officials, “who are charged with overseeing the funding and operations of public education, ensure that our schools operate safely.” The union argues that forcing schools to reopen “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 state’s Republican governor said he’s not responsible. “I didn’t give any executive order,” he said. “That was the Department of Education.”

But DeSantis has defended the order, although he says it is intended to be a recommendation, not a requirement.

For his part, Corcoran called the lawsuit “frivolous” and “reckless.” His order simply reiterates a state law that requires schools to operate 180 days a year, or five days a week for 36 weeks. Corcoran said families “have the choice to decide what works best for the health and safety of their student and family,” which can include online classes.


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