LAKE MARY, Fla. - As cases of COVID-19 grew in March, Governor Ron DeSantis closed all Florida schools.
This fall, classrooms reopened at limited capacity with many districts offering virtual learning from home. But that option is set to expire in the new year.
The governor is considering reopening all campuses to in-person learning.
“I think we all want to go back,” parent Carmen Wagstaff said. “But I think there needs to be a plan in place that says our numbers need to be here and our positivity rate needs to be here. And then we’ll take steps to go back.”
Taryn Fenske from the Florida Department of Education said, “many students are struggling virtually, and can’t continue that way. We’ll still need options for medically vulnerable students and staff, and we’ll always fight for what’s best for students’ total health and safety.”
One of the big concerns among parents and teachers, is if all of the students go back to the classroom, how will social distancing be enforced?
“It can’t,” Wagstaff said. “We don’t have enough teachers. We don’t have enough classrooms. So it will not be enforced. The kids are gonna be put in smaller places. They’re gonna be put at higher risk.”
Wendy Doromal, the president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association said teachers will be more at-risk in that situation.
“Teachers are already saying they don’t feel safe,” Doromal said. “Since July 1st, 611 teachers have either resigned or retired from OCPS schools.”
If school districts do not comply with the governor’s mandate, they could risk losing some state funding
.“They should not be mandating anything,” Wagstaff said. “This should be up to the communities.”
The state said a decision on the spring semester will be made in the next few weeks.