ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday doubled-down on his opinion that schools should reopen their doors despite a surge in COVID-19 cases in Florida.
The governor’s position goes against that of an organization of pediatricians. The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics on Thursday sent a letter to the governor’s office, asking that he reconsider allowing school districts to resume face-to-face learning.
DeSantis said of reopening schools that distance learning just isn’t the same as in-person classes and that the quality of education suffers in that format.
“There’s a lot of parents who’ve seen a regression in academics and have seen their kids miss some of the great things about being in school,” DeSantis said during an afternoon news conference at Flagler Hospital.
The governor said schools need to have the option to hold in-person classes, but the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics disagrees.
When News4Jax asked the governor about the letter his office received from the group of Florida pediatricians, he said: “The general view of pediatricians is that kids should be in school. Obviously, there’ a lot that goes along with that.”
But that letter said children should not go to school until the daily percent of new positive case over a two week period is, at most, 3% to 5%. On Friday, it was more than 12%.
“If children go to school with such high infection rates, schools will be forced to close very quickly after opening, and many children and families will likely become ill with SARS-CoV-2,” the letter said.
DeSantis said he hadn’t seen the letter but said: “Parents should be able to make the decision that’s best for their kid. If they’re not comfortable with their kid going back to a school setting, I think they should have the right to make that choice.”
The governor also recited some research that he said demonstrates that infections from children to adults are very rare. The letter acknowledges those studies but adds that “less of a risk” doesn’t mean no risk.