DeSantis: Florida school closures should be 'off the table'

Appearing at a Jacksonville charter school, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Tuesday touted their efforts to reopen classrooms this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

DeSantis said the “physical, mental and social well-being of our kids required us to provide them with the option of in-person learning.”

A July reopening order issued by Corcoran drew legal challenges from teachers unions, as teachers and other school employees raised concerns about getting infected with COVID-19. An appeals court sided with Corcoran and DeSantis, who argued that families should be given the option of having their children learn in person or online.

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DeSantis and Corcoran made the appearance at Jacksonville Classical Academy on the same day that Florida added 3,662 COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s total to 760,389 cases since the pandemic started.  

Schools shut down in March after the pandemic hit, forcing students to finish the 2019-2020 school year in online classes.

But DeSantis made clear Tuesday he doesn't want a repeat of the closures.

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“Going forward, whatever the future may hold, school closures should be off the table,” he said. "They don't do anything to mitigate COVID. But they do cause catastrophic damage to the physical, mental, and social well-being of our youth. Let's not repeat any mistakes of the past."