Commissioners Proctor, Matlow call for brick and mortar schools to stay closed

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 5:02 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - In a press conference on Friday afternoon, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor and City of Tallahassee Commissioner Jeremy Matlow laid out a five-point Emergency Action Plan for the state.

They were joined by about 20 supporters, many of them Leon County Schools teachers and employees.

The five point plan is laid out in a letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

  1. Mandate all Florida schools remain closed until further notice.
  2. Appoint a Florida Task Force on schools re-opening, comprised of pandemic experts, health officials, and education officials.
  3. Appoint a Special Needs Educational Advisory Team to assess cost for schools to offer educational efforts outside the brick and mortar schoolhouse.
  4. Establish a Pandemic Equity Panel.
  5. Negotiate an agreement on safety with the Florida Education Association.

Commissioner Jeremy Matlow called on the Governor to allow local counties to decide whether to open brick and mortar schools.

“The consequences of these actions can be death. It will not be left to the Department of Education to talk to a parent who lost a child; it will be up to the teachers here in our community,” said Matlow.

Commissioner Bill Proctor discussed his concerns about certain zip codes with higher infection rates, particularly the 32304 zip code.

“We need a Pandemic Equity Panel to look at along racial and socioeconomic dynamics which further fuel a disparate and disproportionate rate of infection,” said Proctor.

Local teachers say you can make up for missed work and assignments, but you cannot make up for the death of a student or employee.

“Online is a great opportunity for zero deaths and to keep our students safe until schools can open safely,” said one teacher.

“My coworkers shouldn’t have to be risking their lives to try and teach their students when there’s another way,” said Katie Summerlin, a Leon County Schools teacher. “Schools cannot always be the only social safety net.”

One teacher from Fort Braden also spoke; that school has recently lost two employees to COVID-19.

“People are going to be in the position of their families, of their coworkers of their children mourning the loss of someone whose live could’ve been saved by staying virtual.”

Copyright 2020 WCTV. All rights reserved.

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