Home > Uncategorized > Florida’s Governor’s School Reopening Plan? Operate at “Full Capacity”. The Result? The Affluent Students are Safe… Others? Not So Much

Florida’s Governor’s School Reopening Plan? Operate at “Full Capacity”. The Result? The Affluent Students are Safe… Others? Not So Much

June 15, 2020

Leave it to Florida’s State Government to devise the most preposterous plan for reopening that I’ve read about so far. According to this AP report, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, because “keeping students at home would prevent Florida’s economy from restarting because parents wouldn’t be able to return to work” he has decided that in August public schools will reopen at “full capacity.” The report notes that he made this announcement after issuing a 143-slide Powerpoint presentation whose bottom line was this:

Each school district will have the final say on its own social-distancing protocols

Oh boy… each district will be required to open at full capacity and in doing so will be able to set their own standards for social distancing. What could go wrong?

While it seems like an abrogation of responsibility for the State to hand off responsibility for opening schools to local districts, I have a sense that Florida’s decision to delegate these decisions on school reopening is where most states are likely to end up. Why? Because state governments are sensitive to passing along mandates to local governments that don’t provide the money needed to implement them. After all, if Florida mandated protocols that required specific social distancing protocols it might be impossible to put them in place in overcrowded districts where students are housed in portable classrooms. If the Governor mandated hygiene standards the State would be on the hook for the funds to upgrade facilities that lack a sufficient number of bathrooms. If the Governor mandated that medical personnel be available to deal with students who show up with low grade temperatures or to administer regular tests for Covid 19 the Florida state government would need to pay for them. By passing the determination of standards on to local governments the state can sidestep any responsibility for funding those standards. The result? Districts with solid tax bases will fund responsible guidelines and those who lack resources will create guidelines that will allow them to “get by”. But in the end, is that any different than the way schools are operated now?

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