Fedrick Ingram, president of the Florida Educators Association, accused Gov. DeSantis, a Republican, of playing politics with children’s lives.
Florida teachers have filed a lawsuit against the state in a challenge to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s emergency order that schools re-open in August.
According to CNN, the lawsuit was announced Monday by the Fedrick Ingram, president of the Florida Education Association. Speaking in a press conference, Ingram accused Gov. DeSantis and his administration of playing politics with coronavirus.
“Gov. DeSantis needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one,” Ingram said. “The governor needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control.”
Florida is currently is experiencing a significant, upwards surge in coronavirus cases. On Monday, the same day Ingram’s lawsuit was announced, the state reported more than 10,000 new cases.
Filed in the 11th Circuit Court in Miami, the complaint names as defendants several state officials—including Gov. DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez—and the Florida Department of Education and State Board of Education.
Ingram stated that nearly 23,000 Florida children have already tested positive for novel coronavirus.
“It’s unfortunate that we have a governor that is playing politics with children’s lives, with teachers’ lives, with cafeteria workers and bus drivers and secretaries, and people who really want to get back into our public schools,” Ingram said.
CNN notes that about 13.4% of children 18 and younger have tested positive for coronavirus in Florida—a figure that’s nearly twice as high as the national average for the same age range.
Yet the DeSantis administration has argued that schools must re-open as they are “not just the site of academic learning.” Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said that schools are also integral for children’s “nutrition, socialization, counseling and extracurricular activities.”
Furthermore, Corcoran claimed that re-opening schools is critical to Florida “hitting its full economy stride.”
Corcoran’s logic was criticized by Ingram, who found the state’s emphasis on economic measures of well-being inappropriate.
“These are not circumstances in which we have business as usual,” Ingram said. “We cannot be guided by the economy. We must keep kids alive, we must keep them healthy and safe.”
Ingram suggested that bringing children back to school poses health risks not only to them, but to their parents, caretakers, and older relatives, too.
“We believe that is reckless,” Ingram said of the executive order. “We believe that it is unconscionable, and we also believe that the executive order is unconstitutional.”
“No one wants to be back in a classroom and reopen our school [sic] more than educators,” he added. “But we want to do it safely. And we don’t want to put people at risk.”