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DeSantis: Parents, teachers, should decide whether return to classrooms appropriate

By Staff | Jul 23, 2020

After a week in which he was sued by the Florida Education Association over his plan to reopen schools, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he is willing to let parents to decide whether they want their children in school and to let teachers decide if they want to provide lessons in-person or through distance learning.

DeSantis made his remarks at a press conference in Melbourne on a day that the Florida Department of Health reported the largest-number of deaths from COVID-19 in a single reporting day. The 173 deaths reported July 23 does not mean all of the deaths occurred or were reported by local health care facilities on that day but that they were released in the state report that day after reports were processed.

On July 18, a 9-year-old Putnam County girl became the youngest Floridian to die from COVID-19, becoming the third person under the age of 15 to die from the coronavirus. An 11-year-old girl from Broward County and an 11-year-old boy from Miami-Dade County were previously the youngest in the state to die from COVID-19. In Lee County, the youngest to die from COVID-19 was 17-year-old Cypress Lake High School student Carsyn Davis.

At Thursday’s press conference, DeSantis said parents should have the option to let children meet face to face at school. DeSantis said significant problems “will mount” by keeping children out of school. To deny in-person instruction to students will create problems in the months ahead, DeSantis said. “If a parent doesn’t want to do that, than they should absolutely have the right to do distance learning.”

DeSantis said children are the least at risk of COVID-19.

“They are the least important in terms of transmitting the virus and yet they have really suffered a lot under the control measures that have been put in place since mid-March,” DeSantis said.

While DeSantis has previously stated that parents should have the choice as to whether to do distance learning, the governor expanded his thoughts by including teachers as well.

“I think the approach of choice, parent-choose, you should have a right to have face to face but if you don’t want to do it and you’re not comfortable than by all means choose distance learning and the same thing with the teachers,” DeSantis said.

“I know a lot of teachers really want to get back in,” DeSantis said. “If others have health problems or they just don’t feel comfortable, let’s just make do with what we have. I think you will see a lot want to go, some won’t want to go with the parents. I think it can work out but to deny people the ability to get in-person instruction, I think that will be very problematic and that will create a lot of problems in the months ahead.”

DeSantis encouraged the public to get tested for antibodies. Those with antibodies who have recovered from the coronavirus can donate blood which can be used for plasma therapy.”If you have the capacity and the wherewithal to do that. We would appreciate that if you did.”

DeSantis said the testing for antibodies will provide a result within 15 minutes. DeSantis said hospitals in the state received 30,000 vials of the drug remdesevir to help fight the coronavirus this week due to efforts from the White House. DeSantis said another 11,000 vials are expected on Friday.

Responding to a question of whether new restrictions would be placed on businesses, DeSantis said that businesses were not the main cause of the spread of the virus. DeSantis said there were no plans to put new restrictions on businesses. DeSantis said COVID-19 is being spread more commonly between family and friends.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, there were 389,868 cases of the new coronavirus confirmed in Florida, an increase of 10,249 since FDOH’s last update Wednesday morning.

In Lee County, there were 13,768 confirmed positives and 247 deaths. Lee Health reported 296 COVID-19 patients isolated in its hospitals on July 22. There were 24 new admissions and 44 discharges a day earlier. There was a 23.8% positivity rate on COVID-19 tests conducted at the hospital on July 22.