Published On: Fri, Sep 11th, 2020

Palm Beach County Lawmakers’ Letter to DeSantis: Stop Threatening Schools and Allow Science for Safe Reopening

Representatives Lois Frankel (FL-21), Ted Deutch (FL-22), and Alcee Hastings (FL-20), State Senators Lori Berman (SD-31), and Kevin Rader (SD-29), and State Representatives Joe Casello (HD-90), David Silvers (HD-87), Matt Willhite (HD-86), and Tina Polsky (HD-81) urged Governor Ron DeSantis to cease with his plan to restrict public funding for schools upon their refusal of offering in-person learning.

DeSantis threatened to withhold up to $200 million in state aid if Hillsborough County did not abandon their plan to hold remote learning for the first month of school. Palm Beach County is facing the same ultimatum and is now reopening schools earlier than they originally wanted. This spurred lawmakers into action.

Protests over the reopening of Palm Beach County Schools. Photo sourced from The Sun Sentinel

“Families want their children to safely return to school to learn and socialize, thereby enabling working parents to return to work,” lawmakers wrote in their letter. “With that in mind, we write to express our vigorous opposition to recent actions taken by your administration that have had the consequence of transferring the decision of school reopening from the Palm Beach County School Board to the Palm Beach County Commission. This impairs both bodies as they make important decisions.”

Lawmakers continue to say that the forceful reopening of schools shifts the focus away from the safety and health of students in an effort of a return to normalcy. The County Commission is focusing on the reopening of businesses and public areas and are now being pushed to cover the reopening of schools.

“Sadly, we have seen elsewhere the dire consequences of schools reopening too quickly and being unprepared to react when students and teachers get infected- causing schools to return to distance learning options and forced large scale quantities,” lawmakers continue. “We do not want that to happen here.”

Lawmakers are noting the return of many students to schools and being sent home or forced into quarantine again due to an in-school outbreak of COVID-19. In Martin County, nine students were sent home to quarantine after showing symptoms of COVID-19 upon reopening.

“While in-person schooling should be our goal, the Florida Constitution requires school reopening decisions be made by the local school board and should be guided by local conditions and scientific data, not threats of severe financial penalties,” lawmakers concluded. “We respectfully and urgently ask that you pull back the threat of defunding and allow the school board to proceed at a pace they determine to be safe and conducive to learning.”

Read the full letter here

About the Author

- I am majoring in Multimedia Studies with a Concentration in Journalism as a Junior at Florida Atlantic University. I love to write about current events in our community.

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