One of Florida's largest teachers union has filed a lawsuit against the state's order requiring public schools to reopen next month.
The Florida Education Association, which represents over 100,000 education workers, says the suit is intended to "stop the reckless and unsafe reopening of public school campuses as coronavirus infections surge statewide."
Earlier this month, Florida's Department of Education issued an emergency order requiring that all public schools reopen to students in-person for the fall semester.
In the order, Commissioner Richard Corcoran called schools "not just the site of academic learning" but also critical places in students' lives that provide "nutrition, socialization, counseling and extra-curricular activities."
In the suit, the FEA states Corcoran's emergency order goes against Florida's constitution, which requires "safe" and "secure" schools.
The union is asking that the state instead implement an online instruction plan with accessible internet connectivity and computers before reopening.
The FEA is also demanding that, when the time comes to reopen, adequate personal protective equipment and social distancing rules be implemented in all schools.
At a news conference on Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he believed parents should be able to decide whether or not their children attend school - opting for online or on-campus learning, or a hybrid of the two.
"Ultimately, parents need to be free to choose the best environment for their kids," DeSantis said.
However, the governor's words also echoed Corcoran's emergency order, listing the benefits school campuses provide.
"Obviously, for some students, school is the one place to get access to healthy meals. It's also the most common location where abuse and neglect are identified," DeSantis said.
Those from Tallahassee to Washington D.C. have a different opinion.
“What the state of Florida is doing, they’ve taken it to another level," said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, whose group joined the lawsuit. “They are extorting communities to say the least – either choose between your health and safety or your school funding.”
Corcoran's order came at a time when coronavirus cases were on a record-breaking rise in Florida.
As of Monday, that trend has shown no sign of slowing down.
Florida's Department of Health reported over 10,000 new cases of the virus on Monday, bringing the state's total to 360,394. The state's death toll stands at 5,072.