Gov. DeSantis: Students should be in classrooms in the fall, not learning online

During a press conference in Jacksonville on Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said state schools should reopen as soon as possible.

"I want our kids to be able to minimize this education gap that I think has developed," DeSantis said. "In spite of good efforts with online learning, it's just not the same, so I worry about that gap."

The governor pointed out social distancing measures put in place by retailers and restaurants that are already open and believes if it is working for them, preventative social distancing measures can also work in schools. 

"If you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, if you can do these things, we absolutely can do the schools," DeSantis said.

RELATED: Florida schools ordered to reopen in August amid pandemic

Earlier this week, teachers in Orange County protested after all Florida schools were ordered to reopen to students in August. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued that order on Monday.  

Per the new executive order, all public schools and charter schools must open their buildings for students at least five days per week.

RELATED: Tracking coronavirus: Orange County issues warning to gyms; lawsuit filed to block RNC

On Thursday, health authorities in Florida reported 120 new deaths from the new coronavirus, grimly marking the highest one-day jump yet amid a surge in new infections that continues to befuddle the state’s attempts to contain the outbreak.

The number of deaths was the highest since the 113 reported in early May. The cumulative death toll has now surpassed 4,000 as confirmed cases climbed by nearly 9,000 to more than 229,000.

The state also reported on Thursday the biggest 24-hour jump in hospitalizations, with 409 patients admitted.