Despite the worries of health officials, some school districts in Florida — a state where more than 8500 people have died from coronavirus — have started reopening. Far-right Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to Washington Post reporter Valerie Strauss, discussed the reopening during a speech on Wednesday, August 12, comparing it to the Navy SEAL operation that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
During his speech, DeSantis noted that Laurie Gaylord, school superintendent in Martin County, Florida, told him she viewed the reopening of schools as "akin to a Navy SEAL operation."
DeSantis said, "Just as the SEALs surmounted obstacles to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, so too would the Martin County school system find a way to provide parents with a meaningful choice of in-person instruction or continued distance learning."
In May 2011, President Barack Obama ordered a military raid on bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan. Navy SEALs were ordered to shoot to kill if necessary, and bin Laden was killed rather than captured. The raid came almost a decade after the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001.
During his speech, DeSantis also said, "The superintendent of Suwanee County, Ted Roush, told me that never before in his 26-year career had he witnessed what he saw during the first day of school: parents not only bringing their kids to school, but also, bringing presents and supplies for the teachers as a way to say thank you."
President Donald Trump has been demanding that schools reopen in the U.S., and DeSantis — a staunch ally — has pushed for the reopening of Florida schools in most of its 67 counties. Although school officials in some Florida counties have called for remote learning because of high COVID-19 infection rates, Strauss notes that "the DeSantis Administration has approved remote learning plans for only a few districts, including Miami-Dade and Broward Counties."