CAPE CORAL, Fla -- An online petition urging Governor Ron DeSantis not to reopen Florida schools in May is gaining momentum. As of Monday the petition was up to nearly 10,000 signatures. Supporters fear reopening schools in May would only spread the coronavirus further.
The petition states that Florida teachers have been heroes throughout the pandemic. And that now they need your help.
Florida schools are currently closed through May 1. Supporters cite fears about asymptomatic individuals spreading the virus to teachers if and when schools reopen. They're specifically worried about children being asymptomatic carriers. Especially given new data about when the state will see its peak of coronavirus cases.
The latest model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the U.S. hit its peak in coronavirus deaths this past weekend. But experts say Florida has yet to reach its own peak.
“This is the peak for the country but for Florida, it has been moved to April 26th,” said Dr. Perez-Trepicho, Chief Medical Officer of Millennium Physician Group.
The petition was started following remarks made by Governor DeSantis during a round table discussion last week. He said no decision has been made yet. But if it's safe, he wants kids to be in school.
"This particular pandemic is one where, I don't think nationwide there's been a single fatality under 25. For whatever reason it just doesn't seem to threaten, you know, kids," DeSantis said.
And during a Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, responded to a reporter's question about DeSantis, and the possibility that he may re-open schools in some capacity in May.
“If you have a situation in which you don’t have a real good control over an outbreak and you allow children to gather together, they likely will get infected, and if they get infected, the likelihood that they will bring the infection home," Dr. Fauci said.
Fauci clarified that he's not specifically speaking about Florida. Only that he's speaking generically about what happens when you have infections in a community, and congregation of people, such as in classrooms, calling this a risk.
Dr. Fauci also clarified that people under the age of 25 have in fact died of coronavirus disease in our country.
The governor did note that school districts in areas with high infection rates would remain closed.