PALM BEACH, Fla. – As Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed this summer for schools to reopen, state leaders told school boards they would need Health Department approval if they wanted to keep classrooms closed.
Then they instructed health directors not to give it.
Following a directive from DeSantis’ administration, county health directors across Florida refused to give school boards advice about one of the most wrenching public health decisions in modern history: whether to reopen schools in a worsening pandemic, a USA TODAY Network review found.
In county after county, the health directors’ refrain to school leaders was the same: Their role was to provide information, not recommendations.
They could not tell school boards whether they believed the risks of opening campuses were too great, they said. They could only provide suggestions on how to reopen safely.
“I don’t think any of us are in a position to balk the governor,”