Florida parents now have the power to decide whether a healthy child should be taken out of school because of exposure to COVID-19.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran joined together on Sept. 22, to announce that the Florida Department of Health issued a new rule, empowering families to make that decision.
The new emergency rule, which became effective on Sept. 22, prevents the unnecessary exclusion of healthy students from in-person schooling; safeguards the rights of parents and legal guardians and their children; provides health protocols for symptomatic or COVID-19-positive students; and provides opportunities for parents and legal guardians to choose which protocols to implement when their student has had direct contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, according to a news release posted on the governor’s web page.
“Parents have the right to have their healthy kids in school,” DeSantis said, in the release.
“In-person education is important for students’ well-being, their educational advancement, and their social development. The idea that schools are somehow a big problem when it comes to the spread of the virus has been refuted yet again. Not only is the forced quarantining of healthy children disruptive to a student’s education, but many folks in Florida are not able to work from home. With this rule, we are following a symptom-based approach to quarantining students in Florida.”
The state’s new surgeon general added: “The governor and I share a similar vision of weighing the costs and benefits of public health policies – and our new rule today is an example of that,” Ladapo said, in the release.
“We must make sure that we are doing what is right for parents and for students. There’s not a single high-quality study that shows that any child has ever benefited from forced quarantining policies, but we have seen demonstrable and considerable harm to children. It’s important to respect the rights of parents.”
Corcoran also commented: “What we did over the past year was nothing less than amazing – we gave parents in our state the option to send their children to school for face-to-face instruction with more students, over a longer time than any state in the nation – but we did see massive quarantining,” said Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, father of six kids who missed over 100 days of school last year due to quarantines.
“If you take the number of kids that had to quarantine, and added up the days they missed in school, in the education arena, we would call that a chronic absenteeism pandemic. Now we have the data telling us that factually 98% of those children who quarantined never became symptomatic. That’s why the previous policy didn’t make any sense. This is a brilliant change, and I’m so thankful for this new common-sense rule.”
On another COVID-19-related issue, DeSantis announced that Florida has secured 3,000 doses of monoclonal antibody treatments directly from GlaxoSmithKline, after the Biden Administration cut the supply.
“We should be doing everything we can to get patients monoclonal antibody treatments, not cutting allocations of treatment like the Biden Administration has done,” DeSantis said, in a release on his web page.
Florida has been aggressive in making this treatment available.
Meanwhile, on the issue of Pfizer booster shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that these groups of people receive Pfizer booster shots, six months after their initial series of shots:
- People 65 years and older, and residents in long-term care settings
- People aged 50 to 64 years with underlying medical conditions
- People aged 18 to 49 years with underlying medical conditions, based on individual benefits and risks
- People aged 18 to 64 years who are at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting
According to the CDC, many people now eligible to receive a booster shot received their initial vaccine early in the vaccination program and will benefit from additional protection.
“With the Delta variant’s dominance as the circulating strain and cases of COVID-19 increasing significantly across the United States, a booster shot will help strengthen protection against severe disease in those populations who are at high risk for exposure to COVID-19 or the complications from severe disease,” according to information on the CDC’s website.
The CDC also will evaluate available data in the coming weeks to make additional recommendations for other populations or people who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the website says.
Pasco County Schools*
Student cases: 5,317
Employee cases: 900
Hillsborough County Schools*
Student cases: 9,145
Employee cases: 1,520
*Cumulative for school year, as of Sept. 24
Sources: Pasco County Schools and Hillsborough County Schools
Positivity rate: 13.8%
Positivity rate: 9.7%
*Week of Sept. 17 to Sept. 23
Source: Florida Department of Health
Published September 29, 2021