Friday, September 29, 2023

Tragic Covid-related deaths in Florida’s Polk Co.


The seventh-largest school district in Florida, Polk County, has experienced 17 Covid-related staff member deaths since the beginning of the school year, CBS News reports.

The names of staff members who have died from Covid infections are confidential, the article states, but five of them were known to have been sick before the school year and never returned to campus.

Because the individuals were not listed, it isn’t possible to trace the ways or places in which they became infected with the coronavirus.

“The pandemic continues to severely impact our community, and many public servants — including educators, healthcare staff, rescue workers and law enforcement officers — are experiencing tragic losses,” Jason Geary, director of communications for Polk County Public Schools, was quoted as saying. “Every death is a devastating blow to our community and reinforces the need for all people to continue taking precautions to reduce the spread of illness.”

Lori Rozsa and Valerie Strauss wrote in The Washington Post earlier this month about the ongoing “tug of war” between Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, a Republican, and President Joe Biden’s Education Department, now under the leadership of US Education Secretary Miguel Cordona.

Although the federal government has supplemented the paychecks of school officials who have mandated masks in their schools, in defiance of the governor’s ban on mask mandates, the state board of education moved to subtract from those districts the amount granted to them by the Biden administration for doing what it calls “the right thing.”

Florida boards see the federal supplementing of board member pay, in particular, as an intrusion and a violation of Florida’s state sovereignty.

“What we are witnessing in these projects, the SAFE Grants, is one of the most egregious violations of the 10th amendment to the US Constitution and Florida sovereignty in our lifetimes,” the paper quoted Florida’s Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran as saying. “By their own terms, these grants encourage school districts to violate Florida law. … If the federal government can simply backfill or buy off school districts with grants, then the state’s enforcement authority is neutralized, nullified, and abolished.”

But local school officials see the ban on mask mandates as overreach by the state government.

The new rule to withhold federal funds from local school districts in the exact amount of any federal grants, is “careless and dangerous and actually increases the risk of spreading Covid,” the Post quoted Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Carlee Simon as saying. “Regrettably, it seems that our surgeon general has prioritized support for the governor’s political agenda over the health and safety of the citizens of Florida, including our children.”

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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