Florida’s recent summer surge in COVID cases is creating renewed nervousness among Florida’s education establishments. To mask or not to mask. To distance desks or not to distance desks. These remain questions. While plans are being put into place to head back to classrooms this fall, it’s instructive to see how Florida fared with keeping COVID-19 out of the classroom.
In the state’s final reporting on COVID-19 in the classroom, last school year the cases attributed to attending school were 91,047 students, 8,291 teachers, and 5,521 support staff. What’s that mean in context? Well, approximately 2.4 million Florida students attended classroom education last year. That means the infection rate was 3.7% for students. How does that compare to those not in the classroom? Florida’s infection rate for minors outside the classroom was 5.4%. Not to get too bogged down into numbers, however, kids were almost shockingly 46% less likely to contract COVID-19 inside the classroom as opposed to being outside of it last year.
Not only were Florida’s schools safe for students, but they were also the safest place for students. All of this is to say a few things. First, the protocols put in place to keep students and faculty safe weren’t good. They were great. Second, it’s almost stunning how wrong Florida’s teachers and their unions were to oppose classroom education. Ironically the foolish teachers protesting classroom education and suing to attempt to prevent it were safer for having had it. Third, this should be the context under which classroom education is considered for the upcoming school year. Variants, no variants, thousands of new daily cases or hundreds, classroom education isn’t just safe. It’s overwhelmingly the safest option.