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Teachers, parents line up to protest schools reopening in Sarasota County

Cars lined up outside the Sarasota County Schools' district building to send a message about reopening classrooms.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — Although a majority of respondents across the Sarasota County Schools district opted for sending their children to in-person classes this school year, another message was heard by the sounds of honking horns: not so fast.

Many students joined teachers and parents Tuesday at the school district building during a planned rally to get leaders' attention about reopening plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They don't want students going back to in-person learning.

But the county school board today also revealed the parent survey results of reopening. Of 20,599 respondents, 73 percent said their child will be returning to in-person schooling. 

Another 22 percent opted for a remote option, if possible, and another 5 percent said they will enroll their child in the Sarasota Virtual Program.

Rather than in-person learning, protesters support a distance learning model to protect the health of teachers, staff and students.

The district said, according to its employee survey results, a majority (43 percent) opted to open remotely and return to in-person learning after the Labor Day holiday. 

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

Some other people in attendance, with signs reading, "Don't make make [sic] me stay home w/ mom," and "stop the hysteria," provided the counter-message. They said kids learn best in the classroom.

Gov. Ron DeSantis maintains it will be safe for students to return to classrooms in August. He doubled down on that assertion this past weekend and again during a press conference Monday, saying the risk is “incredibly low.” 

RELATED: Here are the reopening plans for Tampa Bay school districts

RELATED: Here’s what a pediatric infectious disease doctor says about DeSantis' claim kids' COVID risk is 'incredibly low'

Dr. Claudia Espinosa, who specializes in pediatric infectious disease at USF Health, says she’s worried the situation is being viewed too simply.

"The reality is that kids do have less infection and the symptoms are less severe than the adults, but we cannot generalize," she said. "It doesn’t mean they are not getting sick. They still get sick, they still can get severely sick, and they still can die."

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