Florida Education Association

‘Teachers Should Have a Choice': Florida Teachers Union Suing State Over School Reopenings

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NBC 6's Sheli Muñiz spoke to Fedrick Ingram, the president of the Florida Education Association, about the lawsuit that the union is filing in Florida to prevent the state from forcing schools to reopen.

SHELI: Broward County Schools officials say students will begin online learning next semester, while Miami-Dade officials are saying they're going to wait before making a decision. What is your initial reaction?

INGRAM: I think the superintendents in the southeast portion of our state are taking a measured approach to things. Miami-Dade and Broward seem to be the epicenter of what's going on here in Florida, and it's a very stressful situation to be dealing with this virus, so I think the more time that (Miami-Dade Superintendent Carvalho) can take to do that, the better. We just hope that he can make that decision with all of the stakeholders involved, including of the students, the teachers and the educational support professionals.

SHELI: Let’s talk about the lawsuit that the union filed against the governor and the state’s order requiring schools reopen. What do you respond to the governor now saying that parents should have a choice?

INGRAM: We believe the teachers should have a choice, as well. There must be some reasonable accommodations to those teachers and educational support professionals who are going to put their lives on the line with our children. Listen, our teachers want to get back to work, they just want to get back to work safely. We want to make sure that schools have the proper personal protection equipment as it relates to gowns, masks, or gloves. 

SHELI: What part of all of this keeps you up at night?

INGRAM: One life lost is one life too many. We cannot go back to our public schools with something that we could have done to help someone live a longer life, a child to live a longer life. This virus is very serious. There are tens of thousands of people who are being impacted by this every single day here in the state of Florida. We do not have control of this virus, it is an unseen enemy and until we can do that, ensure safety, which the constitution the state of Florida requires, that we keep safe and secure schools, then we should all be thinking about online or distance learning. It's not the best but it's what we need to do.

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