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Will All Florida Schools Reopen This Year? DeSantis Says He’s Not Sure

Gov. Ron DeSantis says the decision for students to return to school could be made on a county-by-county basis.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is on the fence about shutting school campuses statewide for the rest of the academic year, but he said on Thursday some students may return to school sooner than others.

“We’re going to make the best decision that we can, but it may be that not every county is going to be treated the same in this,” the governor told reporters. “There is nothing wrong with that. If the problem is different in certain parts of the state, we should recognize that.”

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Florida education officials last month called for all school districts to close their campuses through May 1 in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the highly contagious novel coronavirus. Classes are being conducted online while campuses are closed.

When asked Thursday about plans to close campuses for the remainder of the school year, the governor said he would look at the evidence and make a decision later.

DeSantis said he will take into consideration the risk the virus poses to school children, adding that COVID-19 “hasn’t had an impact” on young people.

“This particular pandemic is one where I don’t think, nationwide, there’s been a single fatality under 25. For some reason, it just doesn’t seem to threaten kids,” DeSantis said.

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An investigation by The Washington Post of national cases found nine instances in which COVID-19 was blamed for the deaths of people under the age of 20.

“The risk appears to rise with every decade of age,” the Post reported on Wednesday, citing 45 deaths among people in their 20s, at least 190 deaths among people in their 30s and at least 413 deaths among people in their 40s.

According to the Florida Department of Health, 82 percent of the state’s 354 COVID-19-related deaths as of Thursday morning occurred in people age 65 or older. Four people between the ages of 25 and 35 also have died, but no one under the age of 25 has died from the virus in Florida, according to the health department.

DeSantis maintained on Thursday that he will “look at the evidence” and that he would only let kids return to school if it is safe.

“If we get to the point where people think we are on the other side of this, and we could get kids back in even for a couple of weeks, we think there would be value in that. It’s a return to normalcy a little bit,” the governor said. “If it is safe, we want kids to be in school. I think most parents want that.”

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