DeSantis compares reopening schools to killing Osama bin Laden

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisTrump may meet with potential Supreme Court pick in Miami Florida governor unveils legislation targeting protesters in 'violent or disorderly' demonstrations Names to watch as Trump picks Ginsburg replacement on Supreme Court MORE (R) this week compared reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic to the Navy SEAL operation that brought down Osama bin Laden.

On Wednesday, DeSantis delivered an address regarding school districts bringing kids back to school for in-person instruction after months of pandemic-related closures. 

He began his address by saying that Martin County Superintendent Laurie Gaylord told him re-opening schools was akin to a Navy SEAL operation.

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“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. “All-in, all the time.”

Florida has been the epicenter of a wave of coronavirus infections that overtook the Sun Belt. Earlier this month, it became just the second state to surpass 500,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.

The state health department on Wednesday reported 6,236 new positive cases in the Sunshine State, bringing the total to 557,137 cases and 8,913 deaths. 

Despite the high level of cases and hospitalizations, DeSantis has insisted that students return to in-person classes, saying if retailers like Home Depot and Walmart remained open, then schools should also open their doors. 

"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 said, arguing that online learning is "just not the same."

DeSantis’s administration last month issued an order requiring schools to open for at least five days each week in August.

National and local teachers' unions responded by filing a lawsuit against DeSantis, alleging the statewide mandate violates the state constitution's mandate on "safe" and "secure" public education.

The Republican leader has faced plunging approval ratings for his response to the pandemic. A poll released at the end of July found that his approval had fallen by double digits since April, when he had 50 percent approval, to just 38 percent.