Story at a glance

  • More than 50 percent of respondents said they strongly support the closure of schools.
  • Just 14.6 percent of respondents said they were opposed to closures.
  • Despite the state’s high level of cases, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has maintained that students will be returning to in-person classes in the fall.

The majority of Floridians support closing public schools statewide this fall as the state has been the epicenter of a recent coronavirus wave that hit the Sun Belt. 

A survey conducted by the University of South Florida found 73 percent of Floridians support statewide school closures for the upcoming school year, with 54 percent strongly in favor. 


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Just 14.6 percent of respondents said they were opposed to the idea. About 13 percent of those surveyed said they neither support nor oppose school closures. 

A large majority of Florida residents, 82 percent, said they believe prevention guidelines from public health officials, such as wearing a mask in public and social distancing measures, are effective at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, while 87 percent said they would support a statewide mask mandate. At least 73 percent said they would strongly support such mask requirements. 

The survey showed Floridians are still concerned about the coronavirus. At least 55 percent believe the worst of the outbreak is not yet behind us, compared with about 23 percent who believe it is. 

The study surveyed 600 Floridians from July 30 to Aug. 10 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.

While the outbreak in the Sun Belt has shown signs of slowing down, Florida has recorded more than 550,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 9,000 deaths since the pandemic began. 

Despite the high level of cases, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has maintained that students will be returning to in-person classes in the fall. 

“If fast food and Walmart and Home Depot — and, look, I do all that, so I’m not looking down on it — but if all that is essential, then educating our kids is absolutely essential,” DeSantis said Wednesday. 

DeSantis compared the reopening of schools during the pandemic to the Navy SEAL operation that brought down Osama bin Laden. He said Martin County Superintendent Laurie Gaylord had made the comparison.

“Just as the SEALs surmounted obstacles to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, so too would the Martin County School system find a way to provide parents with a meaningful choice of in-person instruction or continued distance learning,” DeSantis said.

Published on Aug 14, 2020