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Most Educators Uncomfortable With Reopening, Others Determined to Return

July 23rd, 2020 by Jake Stofan

Governor Ron DeSantis gave an impassioned, but short speech Wednesday.

In it he laid out why schools need to open.

The idea isn’t sitting well with the state’s teachers union, which is actively suing to delay reopening brick and mortar classrooms, but there are teachers who agree the benefits of going back to in-person learning outweigh the risks.

DeSantis spoke for six and half minutes.

His primary focus: the need for parents to have in-class and virtual options.

“No parents should be required to send their child to in-person instruction if they don’t want to,” said DeSantis.

DeSantis also said accommodations should be made for students and faculty at high risk.

He suggested those teachers and students be allowed to continue exclusively with online learning.

Angie Gallo with the Florida PTA told us the options have been well received.

“We’re hearing from more parents that want to keep their kids at home versus send them to school at this point,” said Gallo.

DeSantis also said educators are, “Chomping at the bit to get back in the classroom”.

But the state’s largest teachers union refutes DeSantis’ claim.

The union released this survey that found three out of four educators don’t believe it is safe to reopen now.

“Teachers are afraid. Many teachers are contemplating leaving this profession,” said Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram.

But there are teachers who are steadfast in their desire to return sooner rather than later.

“I’m a teacher who wants to go back to school and I support DeSantis,” Franklin County ESE teacher Jennifer Darnell posted in a comment on a live feed of DeSantis’ address.

We spoke with her via Zoom.

“And I’m a high risk person. I have an underlying condition… I refuse to sit and not do what needs to be done because I’m afraid,” said Darnell.

DeSantis’ main concern with staying fully virtual is the threat of exacerbating achievement gaps, especially for students with special needs.

The same students Darnell teaches.

“I would stand in the way of a shooter for them… This is no different. We’re going to be there for them whether it puts us at risk or not because it’s what’s best for them,” said Darnell.

Despite the urgent tone, DeSantis said it would be okay to delay reopening by a few weeks to ensure safety.

Darnell is hopeful that won’t be the case in her county.

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