Our readers' concerns over the reopening of schools continues to rise. After Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced July 6 that all Florida public schools were ordered to reopen, many (most?) parents, students and teachers have risen up to protest what they see as an unsafe, poorly-thought-out solution. We've received many letters and comments – some are printed below – but this copy of an open letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis was particularly persuasive.
Dear Gov. Ron DeSantis,
I am just finishing my master's degree at the University of Central Florida, and I work with incarcerated students to show them the benefits of education. As a returning citizen I know all too well the pitfalls of not having a proper education. It has taken me decades to understand this principle. I also know, even more now than ever, that my son needs socialization – but he can wait. His education can continue at home, through Zoom meetings, through virtual play dates, through educational programming provided by his teachers, and through spending time reading together.
My son and his peers attend a school for special-needs children. This school is high-risk. I know the administrators are struggling greatly with how to keep our children safe while teaching; however, the majority of their time will not be spent teaching. Instead, their time will be spent corralling the children, ensuring they maintain safe distances, sanitizing and cleaning up after every instruction period, and making sure they themselves are not succumbing to illness. I do not want to send him.
We, like many others, are in a unique situation of child custody. My son travels back and forth from my home to his grandparents' home who are both aging and at risk. It is also the only opportunity he gets to see his mother, who is also at risk. Sending my son to school right now, during this crisis, would be doing both him and his family a grave disservice, denying them the opportunity for any safe and quality visitation time.
I am only one of many thousands of voices. But please know this, as a returning citizen, I do have a voice. I would like to be able to proactively use my voice to proclaim how responsive and considerate my party is and how you are acting in the best interest of the families you represent. Unfortunately, I feel that you are failing us.
Please change course and think of our future. Economically, we will recover from this. We are America. Our children have the capacity to learn anywhere. There is no need to rush back and further cripple our already fragile system.
Please offer remote learning as the only option. It's the right thing to do.
@Mary Christian Parents have choices just as the rest of us. If you can afford not to work, stay home. Unfortunately most people can't. WDW felt the same way, but most are already begging for their jobs. Be careful what you wish for.
@Christine Kelley Of course it's unsafe! The numbers are going to skyrocket. If a teacher or student gets the virus, then everyone who they have been in contact with, entire classroom, other school staff, etc. would have to self quarantine. Teachers would be out of work and parents who work would be forced to not work as well, to be home with their exposed or sick child. The effect will force school closures again.
@Jean Alford My grandchild is overjoyed to know that her divorced parents are in total agreement that she will be attending school online only this autumn. She misses seeing her friends in person but she has more sense than the governor of FL and the president of the USA. It is not safe for the parents or the teachers to open the schools at this time. It wouldn't be as dangerous for most children but even some healthy children get very sick or die from this. Remember, when necessary they used to close the schools during polio epidemics before the vaccine was invented.
@Carrie Mackie Houser There is nothing "moral" about this state leadership! Thank you teachers for standing up for our children and yourselves!
@Fernando Maldonado And how are they going to return schools to "full operation by August" when cases are spiking and ICUs throughout the state are at capacity? Are our leaders just completely disconnected from reality?
@Judy Morgan Shaw I think they should strike. And I know they signed a contract. But I don't care – no one else is living up to their agreements.
@Blair Kelly Szeto Don't worry, the schools will be shut down again before progress reports, after we are all sick and dying. I'm a teacher, and I'll be really surprised if I don't get COVID within the first month of reopening.
@Veronica Vargas I really doubt they will open at all. The pattern is the same: cases rise, hospital capacity is overloaded/maximized, deaths. By the time August hits, we will be in the third part of the cycle thus hopefully forcing the politicians to err on the side of caution.
@Terance Claudius Samms They do know if the kids get sick, then they're out of a job or if they get sick, then their kids and spouse dies too?