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'School closures should be off the table,' Gov. Ron DeSantis says

'We are not the guinea pigs. We are the smart ones,' education commissioner says
'School closures should be off the table,' Gov. Ron DeSantis says
Posted at 10:22 AM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 10:22:18-04

No matter how severe the coronavirus may become this winter in Florida, schools will remain open.

That was the message from Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference Tuesday in Jacksonville.

"Schools are not drivers of spreading coronavirus, and schools need to be open. It is a bad public health policy to have schools closed," DeSantis said.

The briefing took place at Jacksonville Classical Academy at noon. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran joined the governor.

"Pretty much everyone acknowledges that having schools open is the right thing to do," DeSantis said. "It doesn't matter if it's in Asia, Europe, the United States, all across the Sun Belt, all across other parts of our country, we have seen that in-person instruction is vital, and it's something that needs to continue."

The governor reiterated his stance that keeping children home and out of school increases mental health and social problems.

"Let's not make any mistakes of the past," DeSantis.

Since the reopening of schools, many education officials have quarantined healthy students if they come in contact with a person who has a positive case. The governor said Tuesday he disagrees with that policy, citing World Health Organization guidelines.

"You should not be quarantining healthy students," DeSantis said. "That really is not, I think, the way you want to go."

Richard Corcoran
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said keeping schools closed would have "permanently scarred a generation of children."

According to the governor, hospitals across the state continue to have the capacity to take care of patients who contract the virus.

"Yesterday's (COVID-positive patients that are hospitalized and being treated for COVID) numbers were an all-time low for us, it ticked up a little bit back today, we basically have been in that 2,000-patient range now for several weeks," DeSantis said.

Corcoran praised the governor's leadership this year through the pandemic and the opening of schools.

"We are not the guinea pigs. We are the smart ones who looked at what was going around the world. Whether it was Asia, Scandanavia, Europe, we looked at all that data and what became very, very clear to the governor early on (was) that we had to open up schools," Corcoran said.

The education commissioner called the reopening of Florida, "an absolute, overwhelming success to date."

"The children in Florida are getting what they deserve, and that is a world-class education," Corcoran said.

All of this comes on the same day that the head of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County said she is concerned about the second wave of coronavirus cases.

The latest figures show there have been 756,727 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, including 16,222 deaths.

There are concerns that a second wave of the virus could hit the United States with the onset of winter.

More than 20 states have set records in daily reported cases of COVID-19 in recent days.