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Hundreds of Florida teachers request living wills as they prepare to return to school amid COVID-19 spike

Hundreds of Florida teachers request living wills as they prepare to return to school amid COVID-19 spike
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At least 600 Florida teachers have requested living wills as they prepare for schools in the state to reopen even as coronavirus numbers swell.

"I heard from one teacher who said she's contemplating just quitting her job to protect herself," Charles Gallagher, a St. Petersburg lawyer whose firm is among several offering free living wills, told NBC news. "It's heartbreaking that people have to give up professions they love because of safety concerns."

Gallagher told the outlet he was "taken aback by the story" of three Arizona teachers who died of COVID-19 and one who died while teaching summer school, which inspired him and several other attorneys to offer pro bono living wills. 

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As of this week, more than 600 Florida teachers have contacted Gallagher alone. 

This week, the Florida Education Association (FEA) sued Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans Group of Florida mayors calls on DeSantis to issue mask mandate DeSantis promises to keep Florida open despite recent coronavirus case surge MORE (R) over his administration’s push to reopen schools next month despite surging coronavirus cases in the state. 

The FEA, which is the largest teachers union in the state, argues that the order would "force millions of public school students and employees to report to brick and mortar schools that should remain closed during the resurgence of COVID-19 cases."

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued revised guidelines for reopening schools that said children are less likely to experience severe symptoms or spread the virus in schools.

The CDC guidelines gave instructions on how to reopen schools safely based on the area’s community transmission rate. Unless there is “substantial, uncontrolled” community transmission in an area, the CDC advises schools should reopen to some extent.

The guidelines echo concerns of some lawmakers, such as DeSantis, who argue that students with disabilities or those from low-income backgrounds may be put at a further disadvantage through virtual learning.

On Saturday, the state reported 12,180 new coronavirus cases and 124 deaths. In total, 414,511 people in Florida have tested positive for the coronavirus and 5,777 people have died from it.