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Press Release

FEA: Governor slow walks lawsuit while rushing campus reopenings

Florida’s governor and education commissioner continue to put politics over the safety and wellbeing of our public school students and educators.Today’s court action in the Florida Education Association (FEA) lawsuit is but one more example of an administration dead set on rushing kids and school employees back onto physical campuses no matter what the science says, and no matter the current situation on the ground in Florida’s school districts.

While the defendants’ lawyers insist the governor and commissioner want a quick resolution, they are trying to run out the clock in advance of a return to in-person learning, all while turning aside the FEA’s calls for mediation of the matter. In Florida, some schools reopen Monday — in an experiment on kids and staff, from bus drivers to administrators and everyone in between.

Today’s outcome, with the lawsuit venue moved to Tallahassee, is a procedural delay but it is not a defeat. The Florida Education Association will press ahead with the lawsuit in Tallahassee to see that Gov. DeSantis and Education Commissioner Corcoran face this case on its merits — they are violating our state’s Constitution by trampling on the basic right of Floridians to have safe schools. Miami-Dade County Judge Spencer Eig is to be commended for expediting the transfer of the lawsuit.

The governor and commissioner would slow walk this case and rush a return to classrooms even as coronavirus positivity rates average above 10 percent and Covid-19 case rates remain high in Florida, as this state’s residents die in record numbers, as districts in other states rush reopening and run headlong into problems with the virus, and as evidence continues to mount that children 10 and older spread the virus as well as adults, raising the possibility of super-spreader events in our schools.

“The FEA is not trying to stop the start of school,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. “We are trying to stop an unsafe forced reopening of campuses that will put our students and educators at unnecessary risk. We are trying to inject reason into the process of educating children during a pandemic, and to protect our communities from a new resurgence in virus cases and deaths. The FEA wants districts to have the ability to determine what is best for their students and communities.”

It takes hard work to suppress a virus — to bring along the public in adhering to the measures that we know will slow the spread of transmission, such as wearing masks and social distancing. Gov. DeSantis has failed to do this work, and students, educators and whole communities will pay the price.

“This state needs to offer genuine guidance to schools, not politically motivated orders. ‘Just do it’ is a catchy slogan for athletic footwear. It’s terrible guidance for students and educators dealing with a pandemic,” Ingram said.

CONTACT: Joni Branch, joni.branch@floridaea.org, (850) 201-3223

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The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 150,000 members. FEA represents PreK-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.

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