Florida Judge Rules State Order Requiring Schools To Reopen ‘Unconstitutional’

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Heath safety precautions are seen posted in the lobby at Layer Elementary School a week before classes begin for the school year during the COVID-19 pandemic on August 10, 2020 in Winter Springs, Florida. Students will have a choice of traditional in-school learning, at-home learning, or a combination of both. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A Florida judge on Monday ruled against the state’s order requiring schools to open for in-person instruction by the end of August, calling parts of it “unconstitutional.” He granted a temporary injunction, putting the decision-making power in the hands of individual districts. 

The emergency order was issued by Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran in early July as the state’s coronavirus cases surged, and mandated that all districts open “brick and mortar schools” at least five days a week for families who want to send their students back, or else risk losing already-allocated funding. 

Along with teachers and parents, the Florida Education Association — the state’s largest teachers’ union — quickly filed a lawsuit, alleging the order violated a provision in Florida’s constitution requiring the state to ensure schools operate safely. They were joined by the NAACP and the NAACP Florida State Conference last week. 

In a 16-page decision, Circuit Judge Charles Dodson said the order is “unconstitutional to the extent that it arbitrarily disregards safety, denies local school boards’ decision making with respect to reopening brick and mortar schools, and conditions funding on an approved reopening plan with a start date in August.”

The Story Continues Here: NPR