TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Florida Education Association has started a petition urging Gov. DeSantis to slow community spread in the state before children are allowed to return to brick and mortar schools.
Friday, the FEA announced the petition, saying students don't need to return until the infection rate is under control and imploring Gov. DeSantis to
"Florida's children must not return to school campuses until steps are taken to reduce the rate of community spread in Florida," the petition reds. "The rate of infection is growing at an alarming rate yet little is being done to slow the spread and even less is being done to support safe return to our schools."
Citing reports of a 31 percent positive test rate among Florida children under the age of 18, the FEA contends it's irresponsible to reopen schools without ensuring a safe return for all 2.8 million public school students and 200,000 public school employees in Florida.
"Until the community spread is reduced, you must recall the Emergency Order issued by Commissioner Corcoran requiring all school districts to open brick and mortar buildings," the petition reads. "Not only do we question the legality of such an order, we find it irresponsible to silence the voice of constitutionally elected school board members who represent their constituents."
The FEA doesn't believe delaying schools to be the answer either and stresses that district must be able to "protect the school year by using the less than perfect distance learning option."
Instead, they're calling on Gov. DeSantis to urge national legislators to pass the HEROES Act, which they say will send billions of dollars to Florida to support public schools.
When districts are able to safely reopen, the FEA stressed that resources to permit a safe reopening are vital.
They suggested the state take make sure schools can take the following steps before reopening:
- The ability to keep class sizes small enough for proper social distancing of 6 feet.
- The ability to quickly check temperatures of all students and staff.
- The ability to limit access to school campuses to only students and staff.
- The ability to reduce the number of students on buses to allow for socialdistancing.
- The ability to have touch-free hand sanitizer stations in every classroom and officeas well as multiple stations in cafeterias and other large common areas, plus refillst hat are readily available.
- The availability of plenty of soap and paper towels.
- The ability to sanitize school buses after each route and entire schools every 2hours.
- The ability to change lunch routines to allow for proper social distancing of 6 feet.
- The ability to properly train all students and staff on ways to prevent the spread of the corona virus.
"It is clear, now more than ever, the importance of our neighborhood public schools in the lives of our children, our communities, our state and our nation. We believe the safe return to our classrooms and our schools is in the best interest of our students," the petition read. "We want to be back in our schools with our students. We know it is best for children to learn in our public schools. Please act now so we can return safely to our school campuses as soon as possible."
To view the petition, click here.