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Teachers Union Sues Florida Over Reopening

Order threatens funding, but DeSantis says it's really more of a suggestion
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2020 6:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Florida teachers union is going to court to block an order reopening schools next month. The Florida Education Association's lawsuit is over the state education commission's order decreeing schools will be open five days a week, WJXT reports. Richard Corcoran is named in the suit, as is Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has echoed President Trump's call to bring students back full time for in-person classes. Fedrick Ingram, president of the Florida Education Association, said Sunday that the realities of the pandemic in the state mean it's too soon to reopen public schools. “Until we get control of the community spread, until we understand that our schools will not be superspreader events, we have got to get rid of this hell-or-high-water approach in opening up our brick-and-mortar schools," Ingram said. The suit was filed in state court in Miami.

The union argues that the commissioner's order is in violation of the state constitution, per NPR, which requires schools to be operated safely. Reopening "without the proper plan, resources, and safety precautions will inevitably exacerbate the spread of the virus, jeopardize public health, and ultimately cause longer closures," the union said. Richard Corcoran, the education commissioner, said he doesn't think the union has read or understands the order. It leaves the final decision up to local school officials but ties state funding to their decision. Under the order, schools will keep the money if they have their reopening plans approved by the state. DeSantis said the order is intended to be a recommendation but declined to take responsibility for it. "I didn't give any executive order," the governor said Monday. (New study suggests young children aren't big spreaders, but older ones are.)

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