On Thursday, state Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, wrote Gov. Ron DeSantis as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Dear Governor DeSantis,
No school district should be forced into opening because of an executive order that is written as one size fits all. It does not. No duly elected member of a school board should be bullied into believing their job will be taken from them when they are simply listening to the constituents who elected them, and the science that should be guiding them.
In Orange County, Advent Health is projecting that our recent spike will continue through the end of July. That is not the same as trending down. To allow a safe reopening, it could be another 6 weeks or more before the rate shows a significant descent, yet the state is pushing schools to open next month.
When it comes to a statewide mask order, you defer to local governments, despite the overwhelming evidence that they are the most effective tool we currently have to control the spread of the virus and allow us to reopen in a safe manner; however, regarding school opening, the state is trying to muscle through an approach that fails to take local communities’ needs into consideration and attempts to usurp the authority of locally elected officials who are responsible for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their students, teachers and families.
With a new record of 156 deaths reported just today, the inability to deliver a clear, concise, and steady message is not only undermining Floridians’ confidence in your stewardship, but your ability to effectively handle a pandemic that is quickly spiraling out of control.
Which is it – local control or state strong-arming? If you want to restore confidence in your governing, then do what’s necessary to ensure our citizens are safe – roll back the rushed reopening, adopt a statewide mask order, and delay any school reopenings until it is actually, verifiably, safe to do so. We need strong leadership that listens to science and works independently of Washington, D.C.