‘We are not turning back:’ Gov. DeSantis calls CDC guidelines to opening schools a ‘disgrace’

DeSantis Vaccine
DeSantis Vaccine
Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 5:42 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCJB) - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blasts the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines for reopening K-12 schools nationwide.

RELATED STORY: CDC: Strong evidence in-person schooling can be done safely

DeSantis is calling it a “disgrace.” He says these new guidelines are not rooted in science.

“We’ve been open the whole time, since August. We had kids doing camps and athletics and all that over the summer and we’ve been in-person as much as anybody in the country and yet, we are 34th out of 50 states and D.C. for COVID-19 cases on a per capita basis for children,” said the Florida governor during his press conference. “Thirty-three states have more cases per capita than Florida children and many of those don’t have a lot of in-person instruction in school.

“Florida schools are open for in-person instruction. Every single parent in this state has a right to send to send their kid to in-person instruction. We have done it the right way, we are not going to turn back,” DeSantis added. “What the CDC put out, 5 o’clock on a Friday afternoon—I wonder why they would do it then—was quite frankly a disgrace.”

The new guidelines were released last Friday.

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Recommended measures in the CDC Guidelines included hand washing, disinfection of school facilities, diagnostic testing and contact tracing to find new infections and separate infected people from others in a school. It also contains stronger language when it comes to mask wearing.

The biggest change is their inclusion of a color-coded system for schools based on the current transmission rate of the virus in communities. The four colors include blue, yellow, orange and red.

Blue and yellow are for communities with low to moderate transmission rate. In these communities, schools are encouraged to reopen for in-person learning. Meanwhile, communities that are orange and red, schools should consider reopening with several safety precautions in place, like physical distancing, since they will represent a community with higher transmission rates.

“It would require, if you actually followed that, closing 90 percent of schools in the United States,” said DeSantis. “We have been open. They will remain open, and we are not turning back.”

RELATED STORY: DeSantis calls President Biden a “lockdowner,” Governor adamant he will not close down Florida

“CDC guidance is informative, although Florida school districts, public charter schools and private schools should stay the course they began in Summer 2020. The science has been clear since August, and subsequent studies and data since then show that schools are safe to reopen,” Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote in a statement on Friday. “Unlike much of the nation, Florida’s schools have been operating safely for in-person instruction since last August, many also operated summer education programs, and 98.5% of early learning programs are serving families in-person.”

The guidance, however, does not recommend full shutdown with schools in high transmission areas - especially at the elementary level. The guidance does however, recommend strictly following the mitigation procedures or a hybrid, remote or virtual learning model based on levels of community spread.

The agency said vaccination of teachers are important, but it’s not a prerequisite to safely reopen schools.

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