With school-related COVID cases rising in FL, Biden wants kids in brick-and-mortar classrooms

Teacher with students, in a classroom. Credit: Getty Images.

In five months time, from the fall to the second academic semester, Florida has totaled more than 65,000 COVID-19 cases related to K-12 public and private schools, according to the Florida Department of Health.

That state data, released late last week, came on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced updated school recommendations for reopening schools safely nationwide, noting precautions such as mask wearing and social distancing.

President Joe Biden reiterated Tuesday at a CNN town hall that he hopes to have most K-8 schools open by the end of his first 100 days in office. Biden said he would like to see “many of them [open] five days a week,” NPR reported.

Biden’s 100th day in office will be April 30th, well into the 2021 spring semester for the nation’s school children.

So far, the CDC’s suggestions are not mandates, and states can ultimately do what they please regarding COVID precautions and school reopening.

Meanwhile, Florida continues to track COVID cases related to schools.

A Phoenix analysis of state data shows that from Sept. 6 through Feb. 6, there have been at least 65,347 cases among Florida’s public and private K-12 students, teachers, staff, and others. That’s an average of about 13,000 COVID cases a month since September, when the state started releasing data on the matter.

The breakout of the cases are 49,572 students, 5,113 teachers, 3,270 staff, and 7,392 other cases in that timeframe.

At least 44,411 of those cases were reported as symptomatic, while 13,879 reported no symptoms. Another 7,057 cases could not be determined as either.

The state data also isolates the cases from the first week of February.

Analysis of that total shows 4,327 cases related to public and private K-12 schools from Jan. 31 through Feb. 6. In that week, there were 3,507 student COVID cases, 284 teacher cases, 181 staff cases, and 355 other cases.

As to the CDC guidelines, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed that following the CDC’s guidance would close a majority of schools in the United States.

“The school reopening plan that makes the most sense if you want to open schools – open them,” he said. “Open the door. Let them come in and let them learn.”

He said that the only reason more schools across the nation are not open is “…because the Democratic party puts the interest of education unions and special interests ahead of the wellbeing of our children and our families.”

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran instructed Florida school districts to continue on using state guidance from last year.

Since fall semester, all of Florida’s public schools have been open for brick-and-mortar instruction, though many families opted for a digital learning option instead.