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State Leaders Push For ‘Parameters’ They Can Give Businesses, School Districts Before Re-Opening

In this Thursday, March 19, 2020 photo, a supermarket worker wipes down shopping carts in The Villages, Fla.
John Raoux
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
In this Thursday, March 19, 2020 photo, a supermarket worker wipes down shopping carts in The Villages, Fla.
Credit John Raoux / AP Photo
The Florida Channel
In this Thursday, March 19, 2020 photo, a supermarket worker wipes down shopping carts in The Villages, Fla.

State leaders on Governor Ron DeSantis’ ‘Re-Open Florida’ task force have set a goal for the group:  Providing ‘parameters’ to businesses and school districts that would be pre-requisites for re-opening.

Three ‘work groups’ representing different economic sectors met Wednesday – representing a vast array of different types of businesses. One covered education, manufacturing, mining and utilities – another, food tourism and retail. The call concerning agriculture, healthcare, finance and other industries was cut short by technical difficulties.

Across all the varied industries, House Speaker Jose Oliva says, universal rules are needed.

“Here’s what we have to understand: We don’t have a collective society. We don’t have a central-planned society,” Oliva told the task force’s executive committee. “And so what we have to do, both in education and in business, is set forth a set of parameters. When those parameters are in place, people will be able to adjust to them. And if their business model works, it will work – and if it doesn’t work it will not work. But the parameters are the most important.”

Those guidelines will have to be developed with input from medical professionals, a handful of which are on one of the Re-Open Florida task force’s work group.

Oliva described what determinations need to be made:

“If we say to people, 'here are your requirements,' the same way we do building codes - you can figure out, people have to be this far apart. And if they come closer, they have to have this protective gear. If you have those things, God bless you, you're ready to go to business.”

Attorney General Ashley Moody is calling for the same type of statewide guidelines, born out of conversations between business executives and doctors.

“Using those business industry experts and the medical professional as a resource in those subgroups, if we can get specific recommendations to our executive committee – that will help us formulate a very clear path and recommend that to the Governor,” Moody said.

A Quinnipiac University poll conducted last week surveyed just under 1,400 Florida voters, 76% of which said the state’s economy shouldn’t re-open until deemed safe by public health officials. The University says respondents were 29% Republican, 32% Democrat and 32% independent voters.

State education commissioner Richard Corcoran wants definitive rules to give educators, and all employees of school districts.

“You open up and you have a classroom – what’s our space capacity keeping kids 6 feet apart? Are lunches given in a classroom as opposed to having too many kids in a cafeteria,” Corcoran said. “All that specific instruction that you guys were talking about on the first part of the call – we want to give that specific instruction to our education community.”

Governor Ron DeSantis, asked about the state drawing up a set of guidelines, suggested the process could involve professional licensing boards:

“I’ve told my folks – we need to get the doctors to talk with some of the licensing boards, like cosmetology, barber, and all this stuff – to figure out ‘okay, what’s the contact like, how can you reduce the contacts?’ And I think there’s a path forward for a lot of this stuff.”

Midway through the task force’s meetings, scheduled to go through this Friday, DeSantis says he’s been “impressed” with the ideas coming from the group so far.

Copyright 2020 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.