Florida Gov. DeSantis mulls reopening schools: Coronavirus ‘doesn’t seem to threaten’ kids
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Thursday signaled that there was still a possibility that Florida schools could reopen in May after being closed since March due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’re going to look at the evidence and make a decision,” DeSantis said of the possibility of children returning to schools in the state, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“If it’s safe, we want kids to be in school. … Even if it’s for a couple of weeks, we think there would be value in that,” he continued.
CNN reported that DeSantis added that he didn’t think anyone under 25 had died of the virus.
“This particular pandemic is one where, I don’t think nationwide there’s been a single fatality under 25. For whatever reason it just doesn’t seem to threaten, you know, kids,” DeSantis said.
“And we lose in Florida between five and 10 kids a year for the flu. This one, for whatever reason, much more dangerous if you’re 65 and plus than the flu, no doubt about that. If you’re younger, it just hasn’t had an impact, so that should factor into how we’re viewing this. I think the data on that has been 100 percent consistent,” he continued. “I’ve not seen any deviation on that.”
The governor’s comments came close to the end of a 75-minute education roundtable Thursday that featured teachers, parents and government officials.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four people between the ages of 15 and 24 and one person younger than 5 has died from the virus.
DeSantis said that Florida’s Department of Education has been proactive in trying to continue the education of the state’s kids during the closing, purchasing roughly 32,000 laptops for rural school districts that were unable to give their students the needed technology for virtual education.
He added that the Florida Virtual School has been offering schools free access to 100 online classes and has taken steps to be able to serve millions more schoolchildren if necessary.
DeSantis also noted that a possible reopening would be approached in two-week increments and that some districts might need to stay closed depending on if they have active virus concerns or not.
“It may be that not every county is going to be treated the same in all this,” DeSantis said.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday that schools around the country should be able to resume in-person classes in the fall.
“Bottom line is, no absolute prediction, but I think we’re going to be in good shape,” the government’s top infectious disease expert said.
Fauci, who is a member of the White House coronavirus task force, noted some measures would need to be put in place to prevent a resurgence of the virus.
“It’s going to be different, remember now, because this is not going to disappear,” he added.
As of Friday, more than 16,000 people in Florida had tested positive for COVID-19, with more than 350 deaths reported, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Updated at 10:53 a.m.