Ron DeSantis is nothing if not a lightning rod for attention to his COVID policies, which have often gone his own way based on his own analysis of the science, the liberty interests of Floridians, and (as is true of everyone in power) the politics. Yesterday, DeSantis took a hard line against schools that attempt to quarantine students who haven’t tested positive:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced on Wednesday that the state Department of Health issued a new rule banning schools from mandating quarantines for non-symptomatic students who were in close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. DeSantis said the state would be following a “symptom-based approach to quarantining,” and called the change “long overdue.” He cited parents’ work schedules and missed school days as main reasons why Emergency Rule 64DER21-15 was necessary. “[Parents] get a call maybe the night before, saying ‘Hey, your son or daughter was quote exposed and they’re going to have to quarantine.’ That makes it very difficult for them to continue doing their jobs and continuing to put food on the table,” he said.
DeSantis, supported by the Florida surgeon general, noted the strong interest that parents have in their kids being in school in person whenever possible:
“Parents have the right to have their healthy kids in school,” he said. “In-person education is important for a students’ wellbeing, their educational advancement, and their social development. The idea that schools are somehow a big problem when it comes to 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.”…DeSantis later added that taking students out of school poses “a huge, huge burden” on both the student and their families.
He’s right. As he noted, like many of the precautions taken at the beginning of the pandemic, making kids stay home from school if they were merely exposed to someone else was a common-sense response to an unknown, fast-moving virus, but one that was not actually based on scientific study. That’s fine as an initial precautionary response, but it’s not April 2020 anymore, and it is high time we stopped pretending that it is. We have inflicted enough on a whole generation of children already. European schools have not taken precisely the same approach as Florida, but they, too, have long emphasized keeping as many healthy kids in school as possible, and have not had much in the way of outbreaks as a result. The CDC has relented on advising quarantines of uninfected, healthy kids. Even the New York City school district is backing off on quarantines, albeit with its own restrictions and over the vocal resistance of the teachers’ union:
[Mayor Bill] de Blasio announced Monday he will relax quarantine protocols, effective next week. “When there is a positive test in a classroom, the unvaccinated students in that classroom will not have to quarantine if they are masked and 3-feet distanced,” he said. “That will allow more kids to safely remain in the classroom.”