At a news conference on Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that schools shouldn’t shut down again if they have a coronavirus outbreak among students, emphasizing the mental health ramifications of keeping children at home.
Schools in other states have opened and then quickly closed again because of coronavirus outbreaks among students, raising the question of how Florida districts will deal with cases of infected students and teachers. The prevalence of the coronavirus in Florida makes school outbreaks all but certain.
According to the Palm Beach Post, “In Martin County, on the second day of in-person school, students in one classroom and on one bus route at Seawind Elementary near Hobe Sound were forced to quarantine for two weeks after a student showed symptoms of COVID-19.”
But DeSantis argues that children are less likely to get the virus or spread it.
He said he expects districts to take each outbreak on a “case by case basis.” He endorsed a more “surgical approach” that doesn’t lead to automatic school closures.
“I’ve been able to talk to a number of superintendents who have already started this week, and I think they’re approaching it very smartly,” DeSantis said after a roundtable discussion on mental health issues at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. “Somebody is on a school bus and they’re ill then you send them home, and if parents have a child that’s ill then you keep them home.”
DeSantis added that: “I think doing a more surgical approach like that makes much more sense than just if one person’s sick you shut down the whole school. I don’t think that’s how a lot of these districts are going to approach it; I think it’ll be on a case by case basis.”
As noted by Palm Beach Post, however, “public health officials worry that schools will help spread the virus, leading to more illness and deaths.”
Watch part of the news conference below: