- Florida has reported just under 9,000 new COVID-19 cases among children over the last 15 days as schools across the state reopen and resume in-person classes.
- In the 15-day period before August 9th, just under 8,600 children below the age of 18 tested positive for COVID-19, which means the infection rate is increasing.
- Florida’s Department of Education is currently in a legal battle trying to force schools to be open five days a week regardless of safety concerns for students or teachers.
The United States has been averaging over 40,000 positive COVID-19 tests every day since August began, but that did not stop schools around the country from reopening this month. Daycares and elementary schools all the way up to major universities have been welcoming students back, and reports of viral outbreaks are never far behind. Earlier this week, three Alabama colleges reported 566 cases just days after resuming classes, and now data from Florida shows that thousands of young adults and children have been infected since schools reopened.
In a recent pediatric report concerning coronavirus cases throughout the state, Florida confirmed that 48,730 people below the age of 18 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Monday, August 24th. As The Hill points out, that’s an increase of 8,995 cases since the last report, which was released on August 9th. In the same 15-day period before August 9th, the state of Florida reported 8,585 cases among children, which means that the infection rate has continued to grow throughout the month, even as the infection rate drops nationwide.
With over 605,000 coronavirus cases, Florida has been hit harder than 47 other states since the pandemic began. Even New York, which was once considered the epicenter of the pandemic, has yet to record 500,000 positive cases. Governor Ron DeSantis has repeatedly ignored these warning signs and attempted to force Florida back to a state of normalcy, with the Florida Department of Education going as far as to sign an executive order demanding that brick-and-mortar schools be open five days a week or risk losing funding.
A Florida judge temporarily blocked the Department of Education’s executive order on Monday, saying it “essentially ignored” Florida’s constitutional requirement to have safe and secure public schools.
“The districts have no meaningful alternative,” wrote Judge Charles Dodson of Leon County. “If an individual school district chooses safety, that is, delaying the start of schools until it individually determines it is safe to do so for its county, it risks losing state funding, even though every student is being taught.”
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and the Department of Education are appealing the decision, as he argues that this battle is “about giving every parent, every teacher and every student a choice, regardless of what educational option they choose.” It’s unclear how forcing teachers to risk their health by going into a school building five days a week is a choice, but that appears to be Corcoran’s argument.