Four Florida Teachers Die from COVID
Four teachers in Broward County died this week from COVID, just days before the start of school
With schools in Florida set to welcome back students next week, one of the largest school districts in the state is warning that a recent COVID-19 spike could put students and anyone who is unvaccinated at risk.
The Broward Teachers Union, which represents teachers in Broward County Florida, is warning that four of their teachers have died within one day of each other this week from COVID. “Within a 24-hour span, we had an assistant teacher pass away, a teacher at her school pass away, an elementary teacher pass away, and another teacher at a high school,” Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco told CBS. Fusco said that three of the teachers were unvaccinated and the fourth one's status was unknown.
While students return to classrooms next week, teachers have been back setting up their classrooms for the last few weeks. The deaths come as Florida has seen a huge spike in COVID-19 cases. The state has seen a ninefold increase in cases over the past month, including over 20,000 new cases a day for six of the past eight days. The state currently represents about 19% of the nation’s new cases. According to the Florida Hospital Association 15,358 people are currently hospitalized in the state for COVID.
The deaths of the Broward teachers also came as Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis issued a ban on mask mandates for schools. Broward County has said that they will violate that order and require all students and staff to wear masks. DeSantis, a wannabe Trump Governor, has threatened to withhold state funding for districts and pay for teachers and administrators in counties that violate the mask rule. However, the administration has backed off of this threat after they realized that school employees are not state workers, but are instead employed by the local school districts. Alachua, Broward, Hillsborough, and Leon counties have all said that they will violate the Governor’s order and require masks.
The Florida Education Association is also putting pressure on the Governor to allow local districts to make decisions on masking saying “Whether it is mandating a pay plan that requires teachers with 15 years of experience to be paid the same as a first-year teacher or telling locally elected officials they cannot enforce recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Gov. DeSantis continues to think that Tallahassee knows best what all Floridians need. We reject that kind of thinking. Instead, we ask Gov. DeSantis to allow all Florida’s citizens to have a voice by empowering the elected leaders of cities, counties, and school districts to make health and safety decisions locally based on their unique needs and circumstance.”
The union also says that the majority of schools in Florida still do not have a school nurse in them, which will likely make issues of containing COVID-19 even harder during the upcoming school year.