County health directors in Florida have reportedly been told not to provide a recommendation about whether schools should reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.
Florida state officials "instructed county directors to focus their advice to school boards on how best to reopen," but the health directors have been told "not to make a recommendation" about whether to actually reopen at all, The Palm Beach Post reports. This is despite the fact that an edict from Florida Education Commission Richard Corcoran instructed schools seeking to not reopen to receive a wavier from health officials.
"We've been advised that our role here is to just advise as to what can we do to make the environment in schools as safe as possible with COVID-19," one health director, Patricia Boswell, reportedly said at a school board meeting. "It is not to make a decision on whether or not to open the school."
Former health directors told the Palm Beach Post this is unusual, as they typically would provide the schools with such advice.
"Yes, we always advise them what to do," said Dr. Claude Dharamraj, former health director for Pinellas County. "Schools are educators; they are not health experts. They have nowhere else to turn but us.”
Health directors still recommended classes stay online in certain counties, but other school boards have made the decision to reopen "despite serious misgivings" after not receiving advice from the local officials on whether to do so, according to the report. Read more at the Palm Beach Post.