Schools reopening: The delta variant is already killing teachers in Florida
Florida continues to see a deadly spike in COVID-19 fatalities just as schools are reopening. It has been reported that four teachers from Broward County, Florida have died from COVID-19 related complications all within twenty-four hours of one another. These casualties have occurred only a week before Broward County schools begin their fall semester and plan for reopening.
While the Broward County School Board voted to implement mask requirements for students and teachers, Governor Ron DeSantis pushed an executive order to ensure that masks remain a choice made by students’ parents. Without a mask mandate and low vaccination numbers, many Florida school board members worry about the consequences of reopening.
Four Broward County educators killed in three days
President of the Broward Teachers Union, Anna Fusco announced that three teachers and one teaching assistant died from COVID-19 related complications from Monday night to Wednesday morning. Fusco also reported that it’s been confirmed that three of the deceased were unvaccinated. The fourth educator’s vaccination status is still unknown.
Broward County School Board Chair Rosalind Osgood has detailed that the board was informed of the four deaths. “We got information on Tuesday that was reported to us. I know of three of those teachers that passed away from Covid in Broward County,” said Osgood.
The school board chair member also confirmed that three of the teachers were not vaccinated. She has explained that the school district has been creating incentives for school staff to get vaccinated. However, this hasn’t provided ideal results.
“There are a lot of people that have still not gotten the vaccination,” she said. “And it is becoming a deadly thing for them not to be vaccinated.” She added, “You need to get vaccinated. This disease will kill you or leave with you a lifelong complication that not only impacts you but also impacts your family and the people that you love and care about.”
Florida school board struggling to promote masks at schools
Rosaline Osgood also spoke about the gravity of choosing not to wear a mask during the resurgence. She explained, “The eight of us on our board are adamant that we cannot have people in schools without masks because we are living backlash of people dying with Covid.”
“You can’t take a risk with peoples’ lives,” she added. “We feel strongly that the lives of our students and staff are invaluable, and we’re not willing to play Russian roulette with their lives or take a risk of losing people because we have people in schools without masks.”
Governor Ron DeSantis orders masks as optional
Florida governor’s order requires that the state’s health and education departments ensure policies that give parents rather than schools the decision to have students wear masks or not.
This executive order is placed despite Florida reporting nearly 25,000 new COVID-19 cases on August 12th, according to the latest CDC data. The CDC listed 24,896 new cases in Florida on that day which has become the largest number in the state since the pandemic first began.
Broward County was listed in the top three counties in the United States with a staggering amount of new COVID hospital admissions. According to The New York Times, Broward County alone witnessed 12,582 new cases on August 6th, 2021.
Since August 1st, Broward County Public Schools has had 138 employees test positive for COVID-19, according to the school system’s recently updated COVID-19 dashboard. However, Governor DeSantis’ office asserts that the executive order is meant to “protect parents’ freedom to choose whether their children wear masks.”
Officials also added that “many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children.”
What do you think about Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order? Should Florida schools be reopening with or without masks? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.