According to CNN, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, announced on September 22 that children exposed to COVID-19 and who are asymptomatic could be sent back to school by parents.
DeSantis’ announcement comes as the state’s decision to release a revised rule following a “symptom-based approach” to quarantining students.
He said, “If somebody is symptomatic, of course, they stay home. If there’s a close contact, but somebody has not developed any symptoms — you monitor them, you notify the parent.”
“The parent always has the right to have their kids stay home. If they think that’s in the best interest of the student and the family 100 percent, we would not want to intrude on that. But if a parent has a healthy child, that child has a right to be in school,” the governor added.
DeSantis said the new policy is observant that placing healthy students in quarantine is “incredibly damaging” for students’ educational progress and can be a disruptive factor for families.
Dr. Joe Ladapo, Florida’s new surgeon general and Department of Health secretary, said, “It’s also important to respect the rights of parents as the governor described. We respect that some parents may be less comfortable sending their kid back to school after being exposed. And so, the new rule allows for those parents to keep their children home for a period of time. And the new role also allows for parents who are more comfortable letting their healthy child return to school.”
However, some school officials are highly against the mandate and think it will cause a surge in COVID-19 cases within the school system.
“This rule is likely to promote the spread of Covid-19 by preventing schools from implementing the common-sense masking and quarantine policies recommended by the vast majority of health care professionals, including those here in Alachua County,” said Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon in a statement.
“The State is, in fact, doubling down on policies that may ultimately put students, staff, and the entire community at greater risk,” Simon added.
“We will be reviewing the new rules and any notifications we receive from the state with our legal counsel and medical advisors. In the meantime, we will continue to follow the masking and quarantine policies currently in place in our schools,” Simon said.
Due to the increasing spread of the Delta variant as the majority of cases within the new school year, schools in select states face continued challenges balancing the spread of the pandemic under differing statewide orders.