Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisWhy not a Manchin-DeSantis ticket for 2024? DeSantis says he disagreed with Trump's decision to shut down economy at start of pandemic Trump says politicians who won't confirm boosters are 'gutless' MORE (R) on Thursday compared reopening public schools in the state to reopening retailers such as Walmart and Home Depot.
"We spent months saying that there were certain things that were essential. That included fast-food restaurants. It included Walmart. It included Home Depot," DeSantis said in Jacksonville, Fla., CNN reported.
"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," he added.
DeSantis, a staunch ally of President TrumpDonald TrumpWendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report MORE, made the statement after the president said he was going to put pressure on governors to reopen schools this fall. Florida is one of several states in the country currently experiencing a severe COVID-19 outbreak.
On Friday, the state reported 11,433 new coronavirus cases, its biggest one-day increase since last week.
DeSantis said online learning is "just not the same" and that he worries about children "missing out on activities." He also said he supports parents who chose to continue online education.
"I'm confident if you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, if you can do these things, we absolutely can do the schools. I want our kids to be able to minimize this education gap that I think has developed," he said.
However, reopening schools poses obstacles that reopening large retailers does not. Children and teachers will remain indoors for an extended period in smaller rooms than those of retail or grocery stores.
Reopening for many school districts is also a budget issue, as school systems need to purchase safety equipment in order to reopen buildings safely under public health guidelines.
The School Superintendents Association estimated necessary protective measures in schools would cost an average of about $1.8 million per school district.
Randi Weingarten, president of the prominent American Federation of Teachers union, told The Hill's Steve Clemons on Wednesday that in order to safely reopen schools, the federal government needs to allocate additional emergency funding.