As thousands of children return to classrooms throughout Florida, local school officials, teachers and doctors spent Wednesday picking apart a state mandate requiring schools to resume in-person instruction this month amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have no business opening schools by a certain deadline, and certainly not by Aug. 31,” Orlando pediatrician Annette Nielsen said during a daylong video hearing in a legal challenge to an emergency order by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran requiring schools to reopen five days a week in August. “We’re simply not ready. We don’t have the things in place to open.”
The Florida Education Association statewide teachers union last month filed a lawsuit alleging that Corcoran’s July 6 order violates the state Constitution, which guarantees Floridians the right to “safe” and “secure” public schools. The Orange County teachers union filed a similar legal complaint, and Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson consolidated the cases.