FACT CHECK: Jen Psaki Claims Florida has “Done Little” in Distributing Money to Keep Schools Open

January 22, 2022 Updated 9:20 AM ET

January 22, 2021 Updated 9:16 A.M. ET

CLAIM: Florida has “done little” to distribute money to school districts to “keep schools open.

CLAIMANT: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki

FACT CHECK: FALSEFlorida schools have been reopened since Fall 2020. DeSantis’ office said that Florida is ranked #9 in the percent of emergency federal funding (ESSER) spend. In October 2021, DeSantis’ office said that there was no financial need for the federal crisis funding because school district funding could be readily accomplished using existing resources.

WASHINGTON (FCV) – At a White House press conference Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki claimed that Florida is an example of a state that has “done little” to distribute money to school districts across the state to “keep schools open.”

“They have done little to distribute money, uh, little to no steps to distribute money across the state and to school districts. Now, part of it is you have to write a plan for how you’re gonna keep schools open to get the third [batch] of money, and some have been delayed in that. But right now, that’s an example of a state that could do more,” she said.

In reality, Florida schools have been open since Fall of 2020, where critics of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) decision to reopen schools in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic were concerned about case spikes, not funding.

FCV spoke with DeSantis’ office.

“If [Psaki] took the time to read their own U.S. Department of Education’s website, she’d see that Florida is ranked #9 amongst the 50 states and Washington D.C. in the percent of ESSER [Emergency Relief] funds spend,” said Jared Ochs, Director of Communications and External Affairs at the Florida Department of Education.

“Our schools continue to remain open to this day, and more importantly, our students are thriving while we address achievement gaps and learning loss,” he continued.

“Contrary to many of the lockdown states, we had 94% of students in schools participate in in-person federally mandated assessments last year without forcing them to wear ineffective facemasks and without having to implement fear tactics.”

“I’d like to add that since Psaki is attacking us this week, I expect she will end up vacationing in Florida in the near future. Can’t wait to see her.”

USA Today also reported that schools reopened “en masse” in 2020, yet did not see a COVID-19 case surge.

Conservatives argue that it should not be an issue for Florida to decline federal handouts if they are not needed.

This story was updated to include comments from DeSantis’ office.

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