Florida students exposed to COVID don’t have to quarantine

Gov. Ron DeSantis during a September news conference in Viera, Florida. Photo courtesy: www.axios.com

Gov. Ron DeSantis, along with the state’s newly appointed surgeon general Joseph Ladapo, issued a new emergency rule last week that allows students who have been exposed to COVID-19 to keep going to school as long as the student does not have any symptoms.

The new rule, signed by Ladapo, is meant to give parents more flexibility with their child’s education and health.

The rule states, “It’s necessary to minimize the amount of time students are removed from in-person learning based solely on direct contact with an individual that is positive for COVID-19.”

The director of Student Health Services at Florida A&M University, Tanya Tatum, says that the university won’t be affected by the rule because the order only pertains strictly to K-12 schools. FAMU Developmental Research School, however, will be impacted by the order.

“At this time, we will continue to recommend quarantine when appropriate under the CDC guidelines,” Tatum said. “However, parents will have the right to not quarantine if their child is asymptomatic. The student that has been exposed will be expected to wear a face mask while in the building. DRS administration will monitor cases.”

Parents in Leon County are concerned about the new emergency rule. Darnnell Presley, the father of a school aged Leon County student, says parents would do anything to keep their children and other peoples’ children safe, even if it means “missing days to weeks” of instruction.

“My son actually had to miss 8 days of school last month when a third-grade girl died from COVID-19,” Presley said. “One of his P.E. teachers also died from COVID-19 within days of the little girls.”

Presley believes that it’s irresponsible of the officials to choose convenience over safety. He states that these precautions may be inconvenient, but they are necessary.

Latheria Gibbs, who has a son that is also a student in Leon County, also says that after hearing about the new rule, she does not believe the officials care about the health of children.

“No parent would put their child in harm’s way,” Gibbs said. “I personally don’t think he understands the effects this has on parents who work or understand how a love for a can make people do crazy things to keep the child healthy.”

Gibbs says her entire family caught COVID-19. She believes that there should be a mask mandate in place to help keep the kids safe and away from germs.

The new order does require students with symptoms of COVID-19 or that have received a positive test to still follow the proper quarantine protocol before returning to school.