DeSantis says children should be in classrooms, not learning online

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he thinks students should be learning in classrooms and not online when classes resume next month.

The governor spoke during a press conference in Jacksonville, saying students in Florida have suffered from an "education gap" due to online classes.

"I want our kids to be able to minimize this education gap that I think has developed," DeSantis said. "In spite of good efforts with the online, it's just not the same, so I worry about that gap."

He said he had faith that schools could be reopened safely, pointing to social distancing measures put in place in retail stores throughout the state.

"If you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, if you can do these things, we absolutely can do the schools," DeSantis said.

The governor added that, though his own children are not yet old enough to attend school, he would personally send his kids to a brick-and-mortar school instead of opting for online learning.

"I would not hesitate putting them in, in terms of risk," he said. "The risk, fortunately for kids, is extremely, extremely low."

He added that children should be around others socially as well.

"There's something to be said for being in school, seeing people you know, growing up like a normal kid," DeSantis said.

Related: Florida reports highest single-day jump in COVID-19 deaths

The press conference happened hours after the Florida Department of Health reported the largest single-day jump in virus deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, along with a higher positivity rate for tests.

DeSantis acknowledged the rising positivity rate in tests, but said "there was no need to be panicked."

"You do have more transmission circulating around the community over the last month, three weeks, than we did at the end of April, all through May, beginning of June," DeSantis said.

The governor did not address the record rise in deaths, but said the state dispatched 100 nurses to Tampa after announcing earlier this week that 100 nurses would be sent to Miami to deal with rising COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The uncertainty over the state's ability to contain the outbreak is undermining efforts to steady a fragile economy.

"At the end of the day, we need our society to function. We need our society to continue to move forward," DeSantis said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.