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Florida Teachers Flock to Lawyers Offering Free Wills

TAMPA, FL - JULY 16: High school math teacher Amy Eaglowski writes a message on a poster board while standing in protest in front of the Hillsborough County Schools District Office on July 16, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. Teachers and administrators from Hillsborough County Schools rallied against the reopening of schools due to health and safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
By Laura Temme, Esq. on July 28, 2020 1:31 PM

Protest signs made by teachers in Florida have taken a macabre turn as of late, and for understandable reasons. One we saw recently read, "We want to work. We do not want to die." Another: "I can't teach from the grave."

And perhaps the most heartbreaking: "Teacher Supplies: Books, Crayons and Wills."

In response, lawyers in Florida have stepped up to help, with many offering free services to aid educators and school employees.

Many Worry About Reopening Schools

School districts across the country face an incredibly difficult choice: Bring students back to school despite the risks, some in just a few weeks, or find a way to effectively teach with students at home. The latter option proved very difficult this spring when schools closed as cases of COVID-19 climbed. Plus, there's the issue of funding distance learning resources.

But, as Florida's largest teacher's union has pointed out in a lawsuit filed against Governor Ron DeSantis, opening schools too soon could have dire consequences for students and teachers.

Earlier this month, Florida's Education Commissioner issued an order that brick and mortar schools must open for in-person classes this fall. Meanwhile, the state saw a 34% increase in new coronavirus cases among children over the course of just eight days.

Attorneys Doing What They Can to Help

The situation caught the attention of many lawyers in the Sunshine State, and they decided to help in the best way they knew how. They began offering teachers free help with their living wills.

Charles Gallagher of Gallagher & Associates in St. Petersburg told NBC News that he's received inquiries from around 600 educators since he began advertising free living wills. Jen Englert of Orlando Law Group said over 1,000 people signed up for the firm's free will services in just under a week.

Whether Florida schools will indeed open in August as planned is still uncertain.

Related Resources:

Florida Teacher's Union Sues Governor to Stop "Reckless" Reopening of Schools (FindLaw's Eleventh Circuit)

Do Teachers Have the Right to Refuse Returning to In-Person Schooling? (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)

Good News! People Think Lawyers Have an Average Amount of Integrity Now (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)

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