Florida Schools Reopen Despite High COVID Numbers In Kids

by Cassandra Stone
Originally Published: 
Students at Hillsborough High School wait in line to have temperature checked before entering the bu...
Students at Hillsborough High School wait in line to have temperature checked before entering the building on August 31, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. Octavio Jones/Getty

Florida students return to school this week while Trump’s new pandemic advisor calls those worried ‘hysterical’

Thousands of Florida students returned to school this week despite nearly 50,000 positive tests in children alone throughout the state since the onset of the pandemic. The concerns of parents and community members were outright dismissed during a recent meeting with the Florida governor and top health and education officials.

Gov. Ron DeSantis met with officials earlier this week at the Capitol building in Tallahassee to discuss the return to schools. DeSantis was joined by Dr. Scott Atlas, Trump’s new “pandemic advisor,” who totally disregarded the worries of parents and teachers by calling them “hysterical” and downplaying the severity of the pandemic. Atlas is a physician and currently a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

“We are the only country of our peer nations in the Western world who are this hysterical about opening schools,” Atlas said, urging DeSantis to reopen schools. According to NBC News, the number of confirmed cases in Florida climbed over the weekend to 620,000 and the number of deaths has surpassed 11,200, making Florida one of the hardest-hit states throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this summer, Florida’s largest teacher’s union sued DeSantis over reopening. The lawsuit, officially initiated by the Florida Education Association, asked a judge to stop the state’s top officials from requiring schools to open, unless they take steps to protect teachers and kids, like drastically reducing class sizes and providing educators with adequate personal protective equipment.

“It is nonsensical to think that we are ready to open brick and mortar and begin teaching in just two weeks,” Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram told the Today show. “2.8 million children are depending on us to get this right.”

Throughout the past few weeks, COVID-19 cases in children jumped by more than 23 percent with about 9,200 new infections, according to news reports citing Florida Department of Health data. Most of the new cases were teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17.

Regardless of the facts readily available by data-driven institutions, Atlas kept insisting that the chances of children getting infected are “extraordinarily low.” (They are not.)

“When you look at what’s happened in the other countries — the U.K., Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, England, Italy, Spain — they are all opening schools,” he said. “We here in the United States, I have people all over the world calling me and emailing me, ‘What is going on here?’ We have the data. There’s extraordinarily low risk in children.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as of August 20th, 9.3 percent — which is 442,785 cases — of the confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. were children.

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