Charlie Crist bashes DeSantis’ new COVID rule for Florida schools

Congress member and former Florida governor Charlie Crist

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Thursday, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) held a virtual press conference criticizing the behavior of Florida leadership and their role in handling the pandemic. Crist said he is disappointed in Gov. DeSantis’ recent decision to revise COVID-19 rules and he called for the removal of Florida’s newly appointed surgeon general.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo

Dr. Joseph Ladapo issued the rule earlier this week after Gov. DeSantis named him the state’s new surgeon general. It outlines a new protocol that gives parents the freedom to decide whether their asymptomatic child should stay in school after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Before the rule, students in that situation might have been required to quarantine. Parents who chose not to quarantine their child can now show proof of a signed note from a medical doctor as an alternative.

The new rule is referred to as a “symptoms-based approach” it is intended to keep sick children home and healthy children in school. The idea gained full support from the DeSantis administration, which has repeatedly expressed the belief that quarantining students sets back their educational progress and disrupts families.

Crist pushes back

“This is not political, it is not right versus left, it is right versus wrong,” said Rep. Crist. He claimed the governor cares more about “scoring party points” than he does about the safety of our children and teachers.

During the virtual conference, he was joined by a Miami-Dade school board member, a 1st-grade teacher, three parents of children who are at higher risk for COVID-19, and the attorney representing them. All of whom overwhelmingly echoed Crist’s concern.

It could be DeSantis vs. Crist for governor

Crist, a candidate for the Democratic Party’s 2022 gubernatorial nomination, signaled safety and better control over the pandemic are a top concern in his campaign for Florida governor. Crist was later asked how he would handle the situation if he were to be elected as governor? He responded that he would simply listen to science. He explained how as the son of a physician he respects the opinions of health care professionals and would defer to them for advice.

Crist jokingly shared the fact that both Gov. DeSantis and Dr. Ladapo attended Harvard. He then said, “Maybe it takes a graduate of one of our state universities, like me, to have common sense.” Crist continues to support leaving the power of deciding mask rules up to the school districts, as well as being an advocate for the vaccine.