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Teachers Union Says Push To Reopen Fla. Schools Is 'Putting Lives In Danger'

Picture of school custodian in mask and protective cover
Charlie Neibergall
Associated Press file photo

The head of a union that represents thousands of school employees says that Florida’s push to reopen schools in August is rushed and “putting lives in danger.”

AFSCME Florida President Vicki Hall said in a statement Monday the state lacks a comprehensive plan to ensure students and employees will be safe when they return to school campuses amid the coronavirus pandemic. State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran last week issued an order requiring school districts to come up with individual reopening plans by the end of the month.

The order also said districts must offer students the option to return to in-person instruction at school five days a week. Hall said thousands of janitors, bus drivers, food service workers and other school workers, represented by AFSCME, are concerned about coming back to work as Florida emerges as the nation’s “epicenter” of coronavirus cases.

“As one of the last states to impose stay at home orders and one of the first to reopen, we are now paying the price for hasty decisions on public health. Florida is currently setting new records of coronavirus cases and deaths almost every day,” Hall said. “We cannot afford to make the same mistakes again that put the health and safety of our children and those that care for them at risk.”

Hall urged Gov. Ron DeSantis and Corcoran to come up with a “responsible plan” that will minimize the risk of spreading the virus at schools. “That plan currently does not exist. We must do better,” Hall said.