Florida educators file lawsuit after state forces schools to reopen this fall

Middle school teacher Brittany Myers takes part in a protest in front of the Hillsborough County Schools District office in Tampa, Florida. Educators have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state's emergency order that forces schools to open for in-person instruction next month. (Provided Photo/Octavio Jones/Getty Images via CNN)

 (CNN) — Florida educators have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s emergency order that forces schools to open for in-person instruction next month.

The president of the Florida Education Association, Fedrick Ingram, announced the suit against Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez, the Florida Department of Education and the Florida State Board of Education. The suit was filed in the 11th Circuit Court in Miami.

Corcoran issued the emergency order earlier this month, requiring all “brick and mortar schools” to open “at least five days per week for all students.”

“We believe that that is reckless,” Ingram said of the executive order. “We believe that it is unconscionable, and we also believe that the executive order is unconstitutional.”

“No one wants to be back in a classroom and reopen our school more than educators,” Ingram added. “But we want to do it safely. And we don’t want to put people at risk.”

Leaders of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association joined the news conference in support of the lawsuit. AFT President Randi Weingarten said DeSantis, who has been pushing for schools to reopen, is in “intense denial.”

“As a national affiliate, we’ll do everything we can do to make sure not only our members are safe, but our community is safe, and that we do not lose a generation of children because of the denial and the recklessness,” Weingarten said.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said, “It is a false choice to either keep schools closed, stop learning or open them unsafely.”

Teachers from Florida also joined the virtual news conference to issue their support.

Stefanie Miller, who had Covid-19 and was on a ventilator for 21 days, has been a teacher in Broward County for 22 years.

“I don’t wish this on anyone,” Miller said of her recovery from the virus. “I, of course, want to go back to teaching, but it needs to be safe. There’s no way that children can sit in their seat for six hours, wearing a mask and not feel the stress of this situation. Teaching online is not optimal, but it’s best to keep teachers, personnel and families safe.”