“We spent months saying that there were certain things that were essential — that included fast food restaurants, it included Walmart, it included Home Depot,” DeSantis said in Jacksonville, Fla., CNN reported. “If fast food and Walmart and Home Depot and look, I do all that, so I’m not looking down on it — but if all that is essential, then educating our kids is absolutely essential.”
DeSantis, a staunch ally of President Trump, made the statement after the President said he was going to put pressure on governors to reopen schools this fall. Florida is one of several states in the country currently experiencing a severe COVID-19 outbreak.
On Friday, the state reported 11,433 new coronavirus cases, its biggest one-day increase since last week.
DeSantis said online learning is “just not the same” and that he worries about children “missing out on activities.” He also said he supports parents who chose to continue online education.
“But I’m confident if you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, if you can do these things, we absolutely can do the schools. I want our kids to be able to minimize this education gap that I think has developed,” he said.
However, opening schools poses obstacles that are not present in the reopening of large retailers. Children and teachers will remain indoors for an extended amount of time in smaller rooms than those of a retail or grocery store.
Reopening for many school districts is also a budget issue, as school systems need to purchase safety equipment in order to reopen buildings safely under public health guidelines.
The School Superintendents Association estimated necessary protective measures in schools would cost an average of about $1.8 million per school district.
Randi Weingarten, president of the prominent American Federation of Teachers union, told The Hill’s Steve Clemons Wednesday that in order to safely reopen schools, the federal government needs to allocate additional emergency funding.