Leon County Judge Charles Dodson issued the temporary injunction Monday, writing in his opinion that the order from Gov. Ron DeSantis and top education officials “arbitrarily disregards safety” and takes away control from school districts deciding for themselves whether it was safe to return.
“The districts have no meaningful alternative,” the judge wrote.
“If an individual school district chooses safety, that is, delaying the start of schools until it individually determines it is safe to do so for its county, it risks losing state funding, even though every student is being taught,” he ruled.
The Florida Education Associated (FEA) filed the lawsuit last month following an emergency order requiring all public K-12 schools in the state to allow on-site classes five days a week by Aug. 31.
The ruling comes as most of the state’s schools have already reopened.
Some schools have already reported positive coronavirus cases among students and staff, FOX13 Tampa reported. The Florida Department of Health said more than 700 coronavirus cases have been linked to K-12 schools and higher education institutions over the course of two weeks, according to the station.
The judge’s temporary injunction was immediately put on hold when the state appealed the ruling.
Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said in a statement that he was confident that an appellate court would affirm the state’s decision to reopen classrooms for in-person instruction.
“This fight has been, and will continue to be, about giving every parent, every teacher and every student a choice, regardless of what educational option they choose,” Corcoran said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.