Florida has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as state politicians disregard any recommendations from health experts regarding community spread.
Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to bring attention to the mistreatment of educators in the state and explain what the state’s pandemic situation is like.
Florida schools have been open since August
Spar said public schools in Florida have been open for the entire school year, since August. In this time, there have been more than 60,000 confirmed cases within the system and 37 educators who have lost their lives due to COVID-19 exposure since August 2020.
The Florida education system is facing difficulty, Spar said. Many teachers decided to retire early or find new work due to the lack of protections provided. He said this has caused more students to be packed into less classrooms, further increasing the risk of exposure.
Even still, the state government has decided that standardized testing will take place. Despite all of the stressors and hardships faced by students and the teachers, whose pay and evaluation is tied to the testing, Gov. DeSantis and the Commissioner of Education are insisting the testing take place.
Florida teachers and vaccination
Spar said Florida has no plan to vaccinate teachers unless they are over the age of 65. There is no priority for teachers to be vaccinated, despite being told that in-person learning is vital and that teachers need to return to the classroom.