Car Caravan Rally planned for 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, to urge School Board to implement remote instruction only when classes begin late this month

One Life Lost is One Too Many event to begin at Bayfront Park in Sarasota and travel to William L. Little Health and Human Services Center on Ringling Boulevard

Image courtesy Sarasota-Charlotte Democratic Progressive Caucus

The Sarasota-Charlotte Democratic Progressive Caucus is sponsoring a Car Caravan Rally, with the theme One Life Lost is One Too Many, on Friday, Aug. 14, at 2 p.m., the organization has announced.

“The rally is being held to urge the Sarasota County School Board to rescind its current school opening plan and replace it with a fully remote plan that will protect the health and safety of students, teachers, families and the community from further spread of COVID-19 during this unprecedented pandemic,” a news release says.

The rally will begin at Bayfront Park in downtown Sarasota, the release adds. Decorated cars will proceed to the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County, which is within the William L. Little Health and Human Services Center, located at 2200 Ringling Blvd. in Sarasota, the release notes.

The Progressive Caucus has targeted the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County, the release continues, because a Palm Beach Post article published last week reported that Gov. Ron DeSantis, through the Florida Department of Health, “has engaged in deliberate deception to get Florida school districts, including Sarasota Public Schools, to reopen despite metrics that indicate an unsafe situation for students, teachers and the community,” the release points out. “The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that positive COVID test rates be below 5 percent for safe brick-and-mortar school reopening,” the release adds. Florida’s rate was at 13% at the time the news release was issued, the release notes, while Sarasota County’s positive rate was 10.2% for children from infancy to age 17. If children up to the age of 4 are excluded and 18-year-olds are included to create a 5-to-18 age range (the typical age range of the district), the release points out, “the school-age positive test rate would be well over 10.2 percent.”

The Palm Beach Postrevealed that despite Florida school boards being told that they would need local Health Department approval to go to full remote learning, Governor DeSantis instructed local health officers to deny any requests for any county in Phase Two opening status,” the release continues. “Simultaneously, the Florida Department of Education has told schools that failure to fully open school districts will result in the loss of millions of dollars.”

Michael Drennon, epidemiologist at the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County, “explicitly told the Sarasota School Board at an August 4 Workshop to open up the district,” the release says. When asked for metrics to guide their decisions, the release adds, “Drennon told school board members that none were available at this time.”

Yet, on the local Health Department’s website, the release points out, Health Officer Chuck Henry, “identifies the mission of the Sarasota office as that of working ‘to protect, promote and improve the health of all people.’”

In an Aug. 9 letter sent to all five Sarasota County School Board members, the release continues, local physician Linda L. Hersh, warned that opening schools in Sarasota, “where there is a pediatric spread of ‘over 10%’ and rising, will mean that ‘people will almost certainly become infected and spread COVID-19 to their families by virtue of attending school.’ She further warns: ‘This school board needs to understand that if you open schools, people will more likely than not fall ill and die due to your decision.’”

Sarasota-Charlotte Democratic Progressive Caucus is a chapter of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida; it is chartered by the Florida Democratic Party, the release explains.

The rally is being co-sponsored by Suncoast NEA-Retired, Protect Our Public Schools Manasota and the Sarasota County Democratic Labor Caucus, the release says