Across the country, parents are trying to make a seriously difficult decision: Should they send their kids back to school? And they're not the only ones who are experiencing turmoil and anxiety over the potentially dangerous return to in-person education during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In fact, these photos of teachers protesting the reopening of schools are a powerful reminder that educators are worried about their students' lives as well as their own as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb.
Teachers in Florida, one of the states hit the hardest by the virus in recent weeks, are suing the state in an effort to block schools from reopening in August, according to NPR. Earlier this month, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued an emergency order to see all school districts reopen their classrooms for children for the upcoming school year, "at least five days per week."
Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis told reporters on Monday that while it was the Department of Education that signed the order, he did not want to see students to "fall behind." According to Politico, he said: "We don’t want folks to fall behind. And we really, really want to focus on the best interest of our students and giving parents the maximum amount of choices to be able to make the best decision they can."
The lawsuit filed by the American Federation of Teachers and the Florida Education Association (FEA) alleges that the state's order to reopen schools the violates the Florida Constitution that says "public school onsite instruction and operations must be opened safely." FEA President Fedrick Ingram told The Hill that DeSantis "needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control." "Everyone wants schools to reopen, but we don’t want to begin in-person teaching, face an explosion of cases and sickness, then be forced to return to distance learning," Fedrick told The Hill. "Florida's Constitution demands that public schools be safe. Teachers and parents want our schools to meet that basic standard."
Teachers echoed that statement as they took to the street to voice their concerns.