Florida’s largest teachers’ union fights to keep schools closed | #students | #parents

ORLANDO, Fla. – The state of reopening schools across Florida will soon be in the hands of a judge as two days of hearings are scheduled to begin Wednesday.

The state’s largest teachers’ union, Florida Education Association, is suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials with the goal of halting in-person learning at schools until it can be done safely.

Wednesday’s hearing will be livestreamed in the video player at the top of this page.

Keep track of the latest happenings at the hearing by refreshing this page.

10:29 a.m.

Mr. Lis, a Central Florida teacher, will testify that if schools are forced to reopen, he will be forced to retire. They are taking a 5 minute recess before Lis takes the stand.

10:15 a.m.

Wells says, “My question is, the parents have a choice, am I right?

“The parents do have a choice at this point, yes,” Shamburger replies.

10:02 a.m.

David Wells, the attorney representing the state, is cross examining Tamara Shamburger.

Wells is going over the Florida Department of Education’s reopening guidance, highlighting different options given to parents and many options listed for districts.

9:55 a.m.

“We immediately went (back to the) drawing board. I felt like I was stuck between a rock and hard place being forced to chose the life of a student versus the funding of the state,” Hillsborough County School Board member Tamara Shamburger said. “To have Tallahassee really strangle my authority and my rights as an elected board member was concerning. Now, against medical advice, we are going to be putting our teachers and students in harm’s way.”

9:46 a.m.

Hillsborough School board member Tamara Shamburger says a revised a plan, based on medical advice, to delay the reopening of schools was rejected by the state.

9:41 a.m.

Shamburger said when she asked a panel of medical experts if it was safe to reopen schools, the only abstention was the Florida Department of Health doctor. She says she was “shocked” by the non-response.

9:29 a.m.

Attorneys representing teachers are going over Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order requiring that all “brick and mortar schools shall reopen five days a week.”

“Was it optional? No, that was not my understanding,” Shamburger said.

9:20 a.m.

Hillsborough County School Board member Tamara Shamburger is the first witness to take the stand. She believes school should be distance-learning only right now.

9:12 a.m.

David Wells, representing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Department of Education, says he will show the school district’s plan, which had to be approved by the state, showing that schools can open safely.

9:10 a.m.

David Wells, representing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Department of Education, says, “Any opening of the schools will bring about some type of risk, but a greater risk is the closing of the schools.”

9:08 a.m.

Kendall Coffey, who’s representing the teachers, says, “This case is not about teachers or educators who don’t want to go to work and don’t want to be with students, teachers love going to class. But, of course, they don’t want to do it that will jeopardize their safety.”

Orlando attorney Jacob Stuart added, “We are going to have a quadriplegic testify, Mr. Escobar, and he is going to have to talk to you about risking his life.”

8:53 a.m.

The union and the state will both begin with 15-minute opening statements.

8:45 a.m.

The hearing in Tallahassee started at 8:45 a.m. as the state’s largest teachers’ union, along with several local teachers, are fighting for a last-minute injunction to keep schools from reopening by Friday.

6:45 a.m.

News 6 reporter Nadeen Yanes will monitor the hearings.

Check out her latest report in the video below.

5:45 a.m.

The state’s largest teachers’ union, Florida Education Association, says it’s not safe to have face-to-face learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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