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State News

DeSantis Wants School Closures To Be 'Off The Table,' But The Decision Is Ultimately A Local One

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The Florida Channel
Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at a press event held at a Jacksonville charter school on October 20, 2020.

Governor Ron DeSantis says he wants to put a stop to school closures for COVID-19 mitigation – but at the state level, that's just a recommendation.

Speaking at a Jacksonville charter school alongside the state’s education commissioner, DeSantis made the case for quarantining symptomatic students and staff, but avoiding closing entire campuses.

“Going forward, whatever the future may hold, school closures should be off the table,” the governor said, asserting closures “don’t do anything to mitigate COVID, but they do cause catastrophic damage to the physical, mental and social wellbeing of our youth.”

A number of schools around the state have closed for weeks after positive coronavirus tests have popped up, including multiple in Jacksonville where DeSantis held the press conference.

DeSantis said he didn’t know about those instances specifically. Despite the hard stance he took Tuesday, the governor says closing schools is ultimately a local decision.

“It’s not our decision to close schools. But no, we are not going to recommend school closures,” the governor said, responding to a question from media.

Statewide teachers union, the Florida Education Association, tried unsuccessfully to sue the Governor and Department of Education for its order requiring brick-and-mortar schools reopen for the fall. The order threatens to withhold funding from schools that don’t offer in-person learning.

Leon County Schools has seen 49 cases of COVID-19 reported in the last two weeks.