Griffin Says Schools Should Reopen

By Anne Tchuindje, Myanna Nash, and Daniel Sanchez

Washington, D.C., Chicago, Ill. and Boca Raton, Fl.

At a recent press conference with The Princeton Summer Journal, Republican congressional candidate Sheila Griffin spoke to reporters from The Princeton Summer
Journalism Program.

Born and raised in Pinellas County, in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, Griffin became a Republican at age 18. In 2012, Griffin became involved with the Florida Bar’s Executive Committee for Labor and Employment. She found her life’s calling in politics. If she wins the Republican primary, she will face incumbent Charlie Crist, former governor of Florida.

Griffin spoke about some of the most controversial issues of the day: race, the coronavirus, and returning to in-person instruction in public schools.

Challenging students’ questions about systemic racism in America, Griffin—who is Black—instead advocated for a “color-blind” approach to race.

“There’s only one race and that is the human race,” she said, when asked about ways to reduce systemic racism against people of color.

The candidate also dismissed racism’s role in the increased prevalence of COVID-19 among African Americans in the district where she is running. Though Pinellas County
is overwhelmingly white, Black residents account for approximately 17 percent of the reported COVID-19 cases in the county.

Griffin attributed this to the recent increase in testing in Black communities. “When COVID first hit Pinellas County, it was in all-white neighborhoods. Right now, most of the testing is done in African American neighborhoods,” she said.

Passionate about education, Griffin spent considerable time talking about coronavirus-related school closures. “Elementary schools should never have closed in the first place,”
said Griffin, adding that “there simply isn’t enough science that proves that younger children could be affected by the virus.”

Although health officials are still researching how children are impacted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that children can indeed become infected
and spread the virus.

With summer slowly coming to an end, school officials are now struggling to find a safe way to reopen schools and hold classes in person. Griffin said not reopening schools will do more harm than good, but that parents should be able to make their own decisions.

“It should be up to the parents, not local officials, to decide whether their child goes back to school or not,” she said. “Parents know their child best.”

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