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Coronavirus Pandemic

In Florida, parents and teachers remain conflicted about schools reopening

Schoolgirl sitting in a wheelchair in an elementary school classroom.

Florida school districts have begun to release their plans to bring students back to school in August amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. Florida, as well as the Tampa Bay area, posted record high daily increases in new cases of COVID-19.

WUSF asked parents and teachers for their thoughts on how to proceed. Here are three different viewpoints.

‘We are seeing what happens when all the restaurants and bars open. Now some of them are closing again,” said parent Taylor Corona. “We need to listen to the medical leaders on this, not political ones.”

A big concern for parents is the inability of students to social distance and the fact that, in many models school districts are considering, masks will not be required.

Families are also afraid that children will carry the disease home to elderly relatives and other immunocompromised people.

“Masks have got to be a thing. Temperature checks and smaller classes, same. This is an incredible moment to teach our kids about civic responsibility and accountability.”

State and local leaders have been pointing to the disadvantages of forcing students to stay at home, citing childcare issues, education gaps, and the toll isolation could have on a child’s mental health.

Maria Galdona, a teacher and speech therapist, agrees. She said students with disabilities are at the highest risk of not having their needs met if kept at home.

“Dangers exist in the levels of stress in families where parents are having to both work remotely and assist students with assignments, or are having to cut hours or quit jobs to care for their children,” she said.

“Suicide, abuse, and financial stressors are very real dangers that are exacerbated by the isolation being posed with schools shutting down.”

“Requiring children to refrain from being around other children, playing, socializing, is a punishment,” she said. “Children are at extremely low risk for COVID, as is transmission from child to adult. There is absolutely no good reason to have draconian measures in place for children in school.”

 

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