WMFE is Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming on 90.7 FM and Classical Music on 90.7 HD2. Part of the community since 1965, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

FEA President Fedrick Ingram Says Reopening School Campuses Now Is Too Risky


Play Audio

FEA president Fedrick Ingram. Image: Zoom screenshot / WMFE

Stay tuned in to our local news coverage: Listen to 90.7 WMFE on your FM or HD radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” and you’ll be connected.

As school districts get ready to reopen campuses, the Florida Education Association says the risk to teachers and students is too high.

The FEA is suing the state over an emergency order which says schools must provide a brick and mortar option for students. 

FEA president Fedrick Ingram talked to 90.7’s Matthew Peddie about the challenge of teaching in the pandemic, and what he thinks a safe reopening plan looks like. 

The last five months “has been the most challenging thing that I’ve seen in my two decades of education and public schools,” says Ingram.

“I’ve been a teacher, been a union officer for many years, and I have never seen anything quite like a mix of angst and fear and anger all bottled up into one that is, you know, permeating across the state. And just a a sheer amount of unknowns.”

Interview Highlights

On the risk of reopening too soon:

“What we need to do is concentrate on the virus, the science, the health, getting this under control, understanding what social distancing is understanding that people are going to, you know, have some kind of mask order or adhere to that. Because listen, if we can open our state, close our state, open restaurants, closed restaurants, and we need to think better about our public schools. We have a two pronged approach to public schools. We can’t just open our schools, we have to keep our schools open. And so that’s where we are. We don’t want to see schools shutter simply because we were haphazard in going too fast to open.”

The FEA’s lawsuit:

“We want them to take away this emergency order that mandates that all school districts have a brick and mortar option and in person teaching situation for all school districts that they take that away give all of the local control to our districts to say if you’re going to offer school and you believe that the best option is to do distance learning or virtual school, then you’re free to do that, free from penalties, free from any kind of punitive effort made by the Department of Education or the commissioner of education. The local school districts should have the final say in what’s going on.”

On teaching the school band during the pandemic:

“It’s going to be tough. And again, what I would like to have is the Commissioner of Education, the Department of Education, maybe even a federal administration under Betsy DeVos, to say, ‘here are the guidelines, here’s what you can do.’ But what we’ve gotten together to do as teachers to say, Hey, there are some ideas. We can have sectional practices, right, we can do woodwinds in the morning, we can do brass in the afternoon, we can do percussion after school, we can space out our bands, you know, six feet apart, we can teach outside, we can teach in a gymnasium. You know if we need to, if you have a bigger band or bigger, you know, set of circumstances. Some of the infrastructure things that we need to do, is deal with our H-VAC systems, deal with our air conditioning systems, make sure that the ventilation is right, make sure that the proper deep cleaning happens in rooms. So there are certain things that we can do maybe hire two band directors so that you can do you know two things at one time and then bring the kids together just for a performance or what have you. So there are some creative things. This is new normal. This is not business as usual. This is not the way that we’ve done it in the past, but we can still have a public education system that is meaningful to children if we want to. This is not skill. This is will.”


Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida COVID-19 news, updates on special programs and more. Support our extended coverage.

GET THE LATEST

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

A recent transplant to the Sunshine State, Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of ... Read Full Bio »

TOP