During a press conference at a Kissimmee elementary school in which a new education emergency education order was outlined, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said, “People who advocate closing schools for virus mitigation are effectively today’s Flat Earthers. They have no scientific or evidence support for their position.”
He absolutely ruled out any future school closures in Florida.
The new education emergency order keeps Florida schools open this spring for in-person learning and protects school district funding. It also calls for interventions for students falling behind due to virtual learning.
DeSantis stressed that virtual learning is not as an effective way to educate children as in-person, traditional learning and was adamant that closing schools outright was completely off the table.
“Closing schools due to Coronavirus is probably the biggest public health blunder in modern American history,” he said.
He said harm caused by those school districts across the country that remain closed “will reverberate in those communities for years and years to come.”
Citing scientific studies from several European countries on the effectiveness of reducing the spread of coronavirus, DeSantis said the evidence has been clear since the spring that “closing schools offers virtually nothing in terms of virus mitigation, but imposes huge costs on our kids, on our parents, and on our society.”
He said these European studies, largely ignored by American media, found no infection transmittal from children to adults and that the U.S. experience, especially in Florida, has “tracked with European results.”
The new emergency order, issued by Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, recognizes that many students attempting to learn virtually are falling behind and takes steps to intervene.
Each school district and charter school must submit an education plan that satisfies the new order by Dec. 15. Part of that plan must be an intervention plan in which the school must notify parents if their student is struggling with virtual learning. That student must return to in-person learning unless the parents affirmatively opts out and insists on continuing virtual learning.
The entire plan is here.