No Matter What, Governor Says, Florida Schools Will Stay Open

As the coronavirus shows signs of a possible comeback in Florida, the governor points to evidence that in-person learning in schools is not fueling infections.

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Florida is adding more than 3,000 new cases of coronavirus a day, the highest weekly average since Labor Day.

The share of new tests coming back positive Monday was 6.2%, boosting that weekly rate to its highest levels in more than five weeks.

Those trends have not gone unnoticed at Miami's Nicklaus Children's Hospital, but the head of pediatric services there does not think the reopening of schools for in-person learning is to blame.

"I'm more concerned about the community spread we’re seeing, not so much the spread in schools, " said Dr. Marcos Mestre. "The schools are doing a tremendous job."

In Jacksonville, Gov. Ron DeSantis agreed.

"We are not going to recommend school closures," he said Tuesday, unaware that Duval County had shut down two schools this week due to coronavirus outbreaks. "It’s not something proven to be effective."

DeSantis did not mention the recent indications that the virus is affecting more people in Florida.

But Mestre said he did not see evidence of a connection.

"It coincides with schools opening, but I think it's not necessarily the school causing it,' he said, adding, "It's more that there's COVID fatigue. People want to get back to regular activities."

Such as scholastic sports, which DeSantis said was one of many benefits of reopening the schools.

"Going forward, whatever the future may hold, school closures should be off the table," DeSantis said. "They don't do anything to mitigate COVID, but they do cause catastrophic damage to the physical, mental and social well being of our youth. Let's not repeat any mistakes of the past."

He also bucked recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to quarantine students who have had prolonged direct contact with infected classmates or staff.

Mestre said he thought the CDC could be more clear with its advice, but "based on the current recommendations, that's the appropriate action to be taken."

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