HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Florida’s education commissioner is standing firm on his decision to reopen schools in August, but some Tampa Bay area school teachers say it’s not safe.
Despite protests, commissioner Richard Corcoran says he will not change the emergency order about schools reopening in August.
"If a parent would like to have their child in a bricks and mortar classroom five days a week, they absolutely should have that option," said Corcoran.
Giving parents the flexibility to choose in-person or online learning was the main focus of discussion in Wednesday's Department of Education meeting. What was not really talked about was the safety of students and staff.
"This is not safe. No one has our best interest at heart," said Jill Corbett, a Tomlin Middle School teacher.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, some teachers in the Tampa Bay area are protesting, saying it’s not safe to return to school next month.
"Back in March we were way down (in COVID cases) and we closed schools. Now we’re all the way up here (in COVID cases) and they’re telling us to go back. It just doesn’t make sense," said Dr. Christy Foust, a Florida teacher.
The emergency order to reopen has forced school districts across the state to quickly scramble to come up with a reopening plan or miss out on crucial funding.
"You must submit a plan, it must be approved or you're not going to get your FTE money. It’s not a good way to do business. We’re all supposed to be in this together," said Charlie Kennedy, Manatee County School Board Member.
Many school districts in the Tampa Bay area have voted to push back the start of the school year, but teachers say going back to classes in August is too soon.
"Please do the right thing, give us a virtual start and give COVID a chance to settle down before we go back," said Foust.