Judge Rules Florida Schools Don’t Have To Re-Open For In-Person Learning

(TheFreedomFlag.com)- Florida schools do not have to open for in-person student instruction by the end of August after all.

A state judge ruled against Florida’s rule that would’ve required all schools to open and have in-person learning by the end of August.

Circuit Judge Charles Dodson granted a temporary injunction against the order, calling it “unconstitutional.” Now, the decision as to whether offer in-person learning will lay in the hands of each individual school district.

Richard Corcoran, Florida’s education commission, issued the emergency order in July, mandating that all school districts open “brick and mortar schools” at least five days a week for families who want their kids to return to in-person instruction. If they didn’t, Corcoran said the districts would be at risk of losing funding that was already allocated to them.

Immediately following that order, the state’s largest teachers’ union, the Florida Education Association, filed a lawsuit along with other teachers and parents. The lawsuit alleged the order violated a provision in the state constitution that said the state has to ensure that schools operate safely.

Last week, the NAACP Florida State Conference and the NAACP joined the lawsuit.

In his decision, Dodson wrote the order is, “unconstitutional to the extent that it arbitrarily disregards safety, denies local school boards’ decision making with respect to reopening brick and mortar schools, and conditions funding on an approved reopening plan with a start date in August.”

He continued:

“Schools should reopen when the local decision makers determine upon advice of medical experts that it is safe to do so.”

The state Department of Education has appealed the decision, though, which automatically placed a stay on the order. This means the judge’s order won’t take effect until either a court rules otherwise, or until the appeal is fully heard.

A spokesperson from the Florida Education Association said the union would go back to court Tuesday asking the judge to reinstate the order so schools won’t have to open for in-person learning next week.

Corcoran released a statement saying the state is “100% confident” it will win in the end. The statement read:

“This fight has been, and will continue to be, about giving every parent, every teacher and every student a choice, regardless of what educational option they choose. If you are one of the 1.6 million students who have chosen to return to the classroom, a parent, or a classroom teacher that wanted to educate their student in person, we strongly encourage you to call the Florida Education Association and tell them to drop this frivolous lawsuit.”

Corcoran’s defense of the state’s position is that coronavirus transmission rates have dropped significantly. The consequences of keeping students home, both developmental and educational, outweigh the risk of them being exposed to the virus, he said.

In his decision, Dodson said Florida’s order didn’t take into consideration community transmission rates, proper precautions or the varying ages of the students. While science hasn’t proven the extent to which children might pass the virus onto adults, “what has been clearly established is there is no easy decision and opening schools will most likely increase COVID-19 cases in Florida.”