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Leon County Superintendent, leader of state teachers' union urge DeSantis to close schools for rest of school year

Posted at 10:32 AM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 17:46:54-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The president of Florida's statewide teachers union and Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna are calling on Gov. DeSantis and Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran to keep school campuses closed for the rest of the school year and continue distance learning.

On Wednesday, Hanna penned a letter to Gov. DeSantis "strongly" urging to keep schools closed and continue distance learning for the remainder of the school year.

"The latest for Leon County shows the peak in cases likely not occurring until June," Hanna wrote in the letter. "As difficult as the change to distance learning has been, our teachers, students, and parents have made the transition. It would be extremely disruptive, if not impossible, to shift back and finish the last few weeks of the school year in a classroom."

The superintendent contends that it not only puts students at risk of exposure, but it also puts teachers at risk. According to Hanna, more than 250 of the district's employees are over 65, which includes essential positions like food service and bus drivers.

He also asserted that teachers couldn't teach effectively in both virtual and physical settings with just 33 days remaining on the school calendar.

"While there are no easy solutions or decisions, I do believe keeping our schools closed is the right choice," Hanna wrote.

You can read Hanna's full letter below:

Superintendent Hanna urges ... by WTXL ABC 27 on Scribd

Hanna's letter comes after Fedrick Ingram, the President of the Florida Education Association, posted the letter he sent to Gov. DeSantis, Commissioner Corcoran and all of the state's school superintendents to Twitter on Tuesday.

"COVID-19 presents more questions than answers. It also presents a threat we cannot control," Ingram wrote in the letter. "The potential damage that could be done to families and entire communities from an outbreak of COVID-19 at even one school far outweighs the inconvenience of continuing distance learning for the rest of the school year."

According to Ingram, almost 20 percent of schools across the state average more than 1,000 students daily, making social distancing an impossible goal on many campuses.

While he admitted that there were concerns about distancing learning and "inevitable inequities" that come with it, the president wrote that Florida teachers were committed to serving students and parents on various distance learning platforms until the school year ends.

Ingram said that while DeSantis may be criticized for making such a decision, he quoted Dr. Anthony Fauci saying, “If it looks like you are overreacting, you are probably doing the right thing.”

"Governor DeSantis, let's lead together," Ingram wrote. "Now is the time to declare the previously unthinkable: School campuses will be closed to students for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, and education will continue to happen at a distance."

The Florida Education Association has 145,000 members and is the state’s largest association of professional employees and the largest labor union in the Southeast

You can read Ingram's full letter below: