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DeSantis: 'If parents want to opt for virtual learning, they should be able do that' as state considers reopening schools

Some First Coast parents are pushing for a later start to the school year to see the trends of COVID-19 after the Republican National Convention.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — If Lisa Nejjar had her way, school wouldn’t start until after Labor Day.

The mom and nurse has concerns about the increase in COVID-19 cases across the state, and in particular in Duval County, which is set to host portions of the Republican National Convention next month.

“Where is the logic that we closed when we didn’t have many cases, but we are opening when we are booming,” she said.

She says it is a tough balancing act. Nejjar wants her son to head back to school, but not at the risk of going too early.

Another fear of hers: What if teachers and other staff get exposed to COVID-19, forcing districts to return to virtual learning?

“The children are the main concern to parents. What about the people who work at the schools? What about the teachers? What about the janitors? The lunch ladies? The bus drivers?” she asked.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants schools to reopen this fall but also distanced himself from the state’s education commissioner who recently ordered schools to reopen five days a week.

DeSantis says he understands parents may be fearful of their children returning, so he suggested online learning should also be on the table.

”Different parents have different calculations. If a parent wants to opt for virtual education, they should absolutely be able to do that. We shouldn’t be forcing them to do any type of decisions,” DeSantis told First Coast News.

For Nejjar, who believes the state is taking steps backward in the fight against the coronavirus, she doesn’t want districts to make any knee-jerk decisions but she also acknowledges they are against the clock.

“It’s a very uncomfortable situation. I would prefer we get this virus under control more, have a later start date so that more of us can comfortability send our children back to the classroom,” she said.

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