ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis shared some of his thoughts on the push to get kids back into the classroom this fall as the next school year quickly approaches for students in Florida.
As for what he wants: kids back in the classroom but that each student's parents should have the final say.
"My view is let's look at what the accumulated data has shown us about how coronavirus affects different groups," DeSantis said. Adding that he doesn't think there is "anybody who can make an argument" that shows COVID-19 is especially "risky" for kids.
He also pushed that H1N1 was "definitely more risky" for children than the coronavirus.
As of July 3, the Florida Department of Health reports 11,515 Floridians under the age of 18 have tested positive for the coronavirus, with 183 being hospitalized.
In his effort to push for kids heading back to the classroom, DeSantis listed several reasons that in-person learning is best for students and poses a "low risk."
For one, the cost of keeping them online is too large and while Florida teachers did an impressive job transitioning to online learning, there was still a significant academic lag, according to DeSantis.
"Just understand the cost of not giving kids an option to be able to have in-person instruction is enormous," the governor said.
Then there is the social aspect of education.
DeSantis said he would hate to see student-athletes unable to compete and fears for the inability of all students to have traditional everyday social interactions with other students if they don't go back.
As for how he deduced that sending kids back to school during the pandemic poses a lower risk? DeSantis said he's basing his thoughts on studies and tracking data.
"If we see that this is very low-risk and we see, I think, overwhelmingly in every study, that school kids are not vectors of transmission then we have to accept that. And then figure out how you fashion policy around this," DeSantis said.
He added that if his kids were older, he'd have no issues sending them back to school.
But, some educators feel they do not have a say in the matter and that while the risk for kids getting sick may be low, the same cannot always be said for teachers.
Shawanda Bonner Morgan, a middle school teacher in Polk County living with pre-diabetes and high blood pressure, recently told 10 Tampa Bay she's worried about her own health and bringing the virus home to her elderly family members.
"You cannot have a system if you don’t save the people first," Bonner Morgan said.
Ultimately, DeSantis said he just wants to do what is best for the kids and asked people to look at the facts and take the politics out of the situation.
"Let's just follow the data and the actual science," DeSantis said. "Let's take the politics out of it, let's take some of the emotion out of it."