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DeSantis Says Reopening Schools A 'Collaborative Effort'

Gov. Ron DeSantis
News Service of Florida
DeSantis wants schools to offer students the option to return to school five days a week starting in August if conditions allow it.

Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters on Wednesday the Florida Department of Education should not dictate local school-district decisions, even though the department issued an emergency order that says schools must reopen in August unless health officials say otherwise.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued the order July 6, on the same day President Donald Trump tweeted that, “SCHOOLS MUST REOPEN THIS FALL!” The order said all school districts must reopen brick-and-mortar schools at least five days a week starting in August, unless local and state health officials direct otherwise.

“I understand the commissioner has done some stuff on that, and that’s fine. But at the end of the day, these school superintendents have unique constituencies and it is going to be a collaborative effort,” said DeSantis, a staunch Trump ally.

Last week, DeSantis said that if places like Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe’s were considered “essential” businesses, then educating students at school should also be considered essential.

State Board of Education members told Corcoran during a meeting on Wednesday that his order has sparked confusion, fear and angst among parents and that the state should work on its messaging about the order. But Corcoran blamed the media for the confusion, and said his order was designed to provide parents and school districts “complete flexibility” about returning students to classroom if the conditions allow it.

During his news conference Wednesday, DeSantis pointed to different circumstances in various parts of the state.

“The fate of Miami-Dade County does not rest on the fate of Dixie County, that’s just the reality,” DeSantis told reporters in Tallahassee. “But there is a consistent message when it comes to education statewide, and that is, parents have the right to choose the appropriate (education) education environment for their child.”

DeSantis wants schools to offer students the option to return to school five days a week starting in August if conditions allow it. Students also could learn online, as they did after school campuses were shut down in March because of the pandemic.