Florida Gov Ron DeSantis Orders All Schoolkids Back Into The Water
Is Ron DeSantis America's worst governor? Sure South Dakota's Kristi Noem has volunteered her constituents as hydroxychloroquine guinea pigs. And Arizona's Doug Ducey is clearly trying to do in as many of his constituents as possible. But for scope of destruction and frequency of fuckup, Florida Man Ron DeSantis has pretty much cornered the market.
Yesterday, DeSantis got caught censoring health departments who'd like to provide school districts with accurate health data. Just weeks after state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran ordered schools to open full-time absent a waiver from the health department, the Palm Beach Post reports that DeSantis told those same health experts to STFU about the dangers of reopening schools too soon. Their job is to explain how to get the job done safely. Or if not "safely," then, like, as safely as possible considering we're in the middle of a viral pandemic.
Following a directive from DeSantis' administration, county health directors across Florida refused to give school boards advice about one of the most wrenching public health decisions in modern history: whether to reopen schools in a worsening pandemic, a Gannett USA TODAY NETWORK review found.
In county after county the health directors' refrain to school leaders was the same: Their role was to provide information, not recommendations.
They could not tell school boards whether they believed the risks of opening campuses were too great, they said. They could only provide suggestions on how to reopen safely.
Neat! So school boards are on their own as they try to decide whether it's safe enough to open schools in a matter of days in a state with a 17 percent positivity rate, according to Johns Hopkins. And even if these concerned laypeople conclude that remote learning would be in the best interests of students, they probably won't get the required sign-off from the health department.
"We've been advised that our role here is to just advise as to what can we do to make the environment in schools as safe as possible with COVID-19," Volusia County health director Patricia Boswell told the school board. "It is not to make a decision on whether or not to open the school."
Brevard health director Maria Stahl agreed, saying, "What I can say is, [DeSantis] has ordered for the schools to be open. The education commissioner has ordered schools to be open. So all I can do is give them statistics."
God forbid the people best equipped to make a decision actually, you know, make it.
This has left school boards flailing, trying to navigate the governor's political edicts while protecting students and teachers.
"When we voted to reopen schools, I'll be honest and tell you I did it because we are under an executive order to do so," Lake County school board member Marc Dodd said last week. "Do I think they're safe? Absolutely not."
DeSantis defended his decision at a news conference, claiming he was just protecting schools from the despotic pronouncements of those big-government bureaucrats.
"The health departments are informing the decision, but it's ultimately not their decision," he said, ignoring the fact that he'd already made the decision by ordering schools to open come hell or high COVID. "They inform the policy makers. They provide information. They should absolutely do that. But to say they should be the ones who have veto power, that's not the way it works."
Leon County school board member Darryl Jones was unimpressed.
"Persons in high places have made a decision that makes it impossible for us to be flexible," he said. "Wickedness in high places, that's what this is."
And so, if I might be permitted an anecdote on this Friday afternoon, let me tell you about a conversation I had yesterday.
"Should we open schools?" my friend asked.
"I think ..." I said, "I think I don't have to decide. Because that decision will be made for me. How the hell am I supposed to know what to do? I'm not a doctor. I'm not an epidemiologist. I guess the schools will figure it out?"
"That was an incredible waffle!" said my buddy. "WTF!"
Rude! Because, really, I DO NOT FUCKING KNOW. And besides the ongoing destruction of democracy, I have thought about nothing else for the past six months.
The point is, this exercise only works if the doctors are allowed to do their damn jobs. The vast majority of parents have no way of gauging the risk, and if we don't allow the people with the expertise to make the decision, nobody will trust the outcome. Some of us will keep our kids home ensconced in bubble wrap, and some of us won't even make them wear a mask as they crowd into the lunchroom. And denying us access to real, un-politicized data just makes this problem worse.
But making a problem worse is kind of Ron DeSantis's thing, so here we are. Hey, remember when that asshole demanded an apology from those evil partisans who said his COVID response was shite?
Governor Ron DeSantis blasts reporters over fearmongering criticism of his state while VP Pence youtu.be
Yeah, that aged well.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.