After Leon Circuit Judge Charles Dobson granted a temporary injunction to block state leaders from unconstitutionally forcing districts to reopen brick-and-mortar schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida Watch and Progress Florida released new polling showing Floridians agree it isn’t safe to reopen brick and mortar schools in Florida.
The new polling by Clarity Campaign Labs shows 59% of Florida voters believe the risks of opening schools outweigh the benefits of in-person instruction. Only 33% of respondents felt the need to reopen schools should override public health concerns.
Other key findings in the poll show Floridians don’t just disapprove of Gov. Ron DeSantis on school reopenings but find his leadership lacking across the board:
- DeSantis disapproval is at 50/47% and Floridians disapprove of his handling of coronavirus by a seven-point margin, 52/45%
- Floridians prioritize controlling the virus over restarting the economy by 20 percentage points, 56/36%
- Floridians’ support for a statewide mask mandate is overwhelming and bipartisan at 76/22%
- An eviction moratorium has even broader support at 80/12%
“Governor Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran should listen to Judge Dobson – and a solid majority of Floridians – and abandon their reckless school reopening plan that endangers our children, teachers, school workers and their families,” said Josh Weierbach, Executive Director of Florida Watch. “We all want our kids back in school but not while there is community spread and proper measures aren’t being taken to keep them safe.”
“In light of Judge Dobson’s ruling, and the overwhelming public sentiment against the risky reopening plan being pushed by DeSantis and Corcoran, we call on state leaders to drop their appeal, quit playing politics with the lives of our teachers and students, and make health and safety the number one priority so our kids can return to school safely,” said Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director of Progress Florida.
Not surprisingly, as soon as school districts started reopening more cases began to be reported, both among students and teachers. In Martin County, where the positivity rate among minors is at 21-percent, hundreds of students and staff have been quarantined. But it’s not just Martin County where problems are cropping up. Counties from Wakulla to Okeechobee have started to see cases now that they’ve returned to in-person instruction without having proper resources to ensure we can return safely. According to the Florida Department of Health, between K-12 and institutions of higher education, more than 700 cases have been linked to schools since students and staff started returning two weeks ago.
This poll of 2,310 likely Florida voters was conducted online from August 12-16, 2020, by Clarity Campaign Labs on behalf of the Florida Communications and Research Hub.