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State Calls Parents, Doctors As Witnesses In School Reopen Challenge's Second Day Of Hearings

Second Judicial Circuit Court YouTube
Pictured is a screencap of the Zoom hearing in the lawsuit, brought by the Florida Education Association, against the state concerning its school reopen order.

The state finished presenting its case in the legal challenge to Florida’s school reopen order Thursday.

The high-profile lawsuit was brought by statewide teachers union, the Florida Education Association. It alleges state education commissioner Richard Corcoran’s order calling for brick-and-mortar campuses to operate in the fall violates the state constitution, which requires public schools be “safe.”

Attorneys for the state called parents of Florida students as witnesses, who said continuing with distance learning will be harmful for a number of reasons. Also called as witnesses were two doctors, who spoke in favor of opening campuses. One of them is Stanford professor and researcher Dr. Jay Bhattacharya. Using his testimony, the state tried poking holes in the theory that child-to-adult COVID-19 transmission is a risk

“The main finding from that literature is that kids do not pass the disease on to adults at any appreciable rate,” Bhattacharya “The risk that kids pose to adults is very very small, even if they’re positive.”

There, Dr. Bhattacharya cited a study done in Iceland, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Jacob Stuart, an attorney representing the teachers union, called into question Bhattacharya’s credibility.

Stuart: “After medical school, did you ever complete an internship or residency?”

Bhattacharya: “No, I do research full-time.”

Stuart: “So, it’s fair to say then, part of your research, you’ve never treated any patient formally, your entire career. Is that right?”

Bhattacharya: “In medical school I did, but no – I do research full time.”

Stuart: “Have you ever treated anyone with COVID-19?”

Bhattacharya: “I don’t treat patients; I do research full-time.”

Leon County Judge Charles Dodson scheduled closing arguments in the case for noon Friday. Dodson says he's hoping to make a ruling in the case early next week.