As the state’s reopening of brick and mortar schools throughout Florida begins in some districts, state Senators Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) and Lori Berman (D-Delray Beach) on Monday called on Governor Ron DeSantis to spend less time on his round-table self-congratulation tour, and more on formulating a plan to keep students safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its infection course in The Sunshine State.
“The ‘Ron DeSantis Road Show’ is little more than a taxpayer-funded opportunity for the governor to pat himself on the back,” said Senator Cruz. “With widespread worry among parents about the lack of a cohesive plan to return kids safely to the classroom, the mixed messaging from both the governor and his Education Commissioner, and the threat of withholding funding from those school districts who opt for online learning for everyone until the pandemic subsides, the governor is failing miserably at leading this state through one of the worst disasters in our history.”
“Florida’s haphazard plan to return students to the classroom is akin to throwing what you can at the wall, and see what sticks,” said Senator Berman. “The governor continues to reject our calls for ‘Stepping Back to Safety,’ which includes holding off on returning students until the positivity rate has dropped below 5% for 14 consecutive days county-wide, and instituting widespread, robust testing to ensure outbreaks are quickly spotted and quashed. He shut down the schools when the case load was much less, and deaths were few. With the numbers still unacceptably high, why is there the rush to reopen campuses?”
Since the Trump Administration announced its intent to reopen schools this fall, the governor has proposed one excuse after another to comply with the agenda, the senators noted. First it was to offer a more well-rounded experience, next it was mental health, then it was sports. Today it was to deliver relief for a “single mom” who’s “gotta work.”
“If working single moms were the priority, Governor DeSantis would have made fixing the unemployment mess an even higher priority,” said Senator Cruz, who, along with Senator Berman is a member of the Senate Education Committee.
“The governor and his Education Commissioner cannot guarantee the safety of our kids once they step into those classrooms,” said Senator Berman. “He cannot guarantee the safety of the teachers, the education personnel, the parents, or the families of these children. All he can guarantee is a repeat of the disaster that followed his hasty compliance with the Trump Administration’s rush to reopen the states.”