Florida school reopening lawsuit sits in limbo

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – School districts began opening in-class learning Monday as the lawsuit filed by the Florida Education Association to delay classroom learning hangs in limbo. 

The case was transferred from Miami to Tallahassee last week and no hearing date has yet been set.

The order transferring the reopening lawsuit to the State Capital was issued last Thursday. By Monday morning, two circuit judges had recused themselves. Neither responded to an email asking why.

The Florida Education Association, which filed the lawsuit, wants schools open — but safely.  

“We want to make sure that our students and the people who work in our schools are safe,” FEA Vice President Andrew Spar said. “This is not about whether or not we reopen schools. This is not about opening schools in the right environment and in the way.”

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Five mostly rural Florida counties were opened their classrooms Monday. More are expected throughout the week. 

The state’s pediatric COVID report shows more than 39,000 cases among people ages 17 and under. But the good news is there have been no new cases reported over the last four days.

At an education roundtable Monday, the governor reiterated that he was committed to having in-class learning.

“There are a lot of parents who do believe that the in person is essential, and we want to make sure they have the option to exercise a meaningful choice as well,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Late Friday, the Hillsborough County School District’s plan to start the school year with four weeks of online-only instruction was rejected by the state.

“They brought together medical professionals from many of the area hospitals and asked them, is it safe to open schools,” Spar said. “And every single medical professional said they didn’t think it was at this point in the COVID crisis.”

And FEA said it does expect the lawsuit will be back in court for a hearing by the end of the week. The union continues to say it wants to sit down with DeSantis to talk about options, but he has so far refused that offer.

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