FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Closing schools for months at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic was a mistake that won’t be repeated, and only students who develop symptoms should be isolated, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday.
During a visit to a charter school in Jacksonville, the governor said over 60% of the state’s 2.8 million students in pre-K to 12th grade are getting in-person instruction, and it’s an increasingly popular option because infection risks are low.
“Going forward, whatever the future may hold, school closures should be off the table,” DeSantis said. “They don’t do anything to mitigate COVID, but they do cause catastrophic damage to the physical, mental and social well being of our youth. Let’s not repeat any mistakes of the past.”
The governor said that after two months of most schools in the state being open, there have not been major outbreaks or causes of concern about the virus spreading among students.
“It’s obviously even more clear now that schools are not drivers of spreading coronavirus, and schools need to be open,” he said. “It is a bad public health policy to have schools closed.”
When asked about schools that have had cases of infected students, DeSantis said it doesn’t make sense to force their classmates to quarantine for two weeks unless they are having virus symptoms.
“You should not be quarantining healthy students,” he said, adding that schools shouldn’t “throw in the towel” and close because of a few sick kids.
Joined by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, DeSantis did not mention statewide teacher union opposition to school openings, amid concerns about risks to faculty members.
“Now pretty much everyone acknowledges that having schools open is the right thing to do,” he said.
©2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)