Florida Director Jimbo Jackson, who fought Gov. Ron DeSantis over personal learning, dies of Long COVID

In July 2020, after a second staffer who worked at Jimbo Jackson’s Florida school died from COVID, he resisted Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to reopen schools for in-person instruction.

Jackson, the Fort Braden School principal and Leon County commissioner, recently tested positive for COVID himself.

Now, almost two years later, Jackson has died after a long illness with COVID, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. He was 55.

In the summer of 2020, DeSantis’ directive to reopen schools and personally call teachers back to work sparked controversy amid his state’s alarming rate of COVID cases.

“As a school principal, I can no longer watch my school family mourn the loss of our friends and then tell them, ‘I can protect you when you come to school.’ That would certainly be a lie and a slap in the face to the Byrd and Bradwell families who are grieving and planning memorial services for angels who left too soon,” Jackson said at the time.

“Given what the Fort Braden School community has already endured, I cannot support a return to brick and mortar school and respectfully urge our state leaders to delay the return of students to school buildings until it is reasonable for all members.” safe is our school communities. Our students, staff and associates are not a gamble that I am willing to take when lives are at stake.”

Jackson began working at the Fort Braden School in Tallahassee in 1992. Over the years he rose from assistant teacher to principal. He was elected county commissioner in 2016. After losing his battle with COVID, he leaves behind a wife, two daughters and two stepsons.

“He just had amazing empathy,” said Leon County Administrator Vince Long Tallahassee Democrat. “And I think that came from his years of experience as a principal at a Title I school. He’s seen it all first hand, the struggles that people face. And he had the very unique perspective of seeing how it plays out across generations, because he was teaching kids and their parents, their uncles and their aunts, and being a principal.”

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey has ordered the city’s flags to be flown at half-mast for ten days to honor Jackson and his more than 30 years as a teacher and later commissioner.

When he was honored as the Tallahassee DemocratWinner of Person of the Year in 2014, he told the newspaper: “You have to make meaningful connections and build relationships and nurture those relationships. You have to understand where people are coming from, value them and show them that you value them.” Florida Director Jimbo Jackson, who fought Gov. Ron DeSantis over personal learning, dies of Long COVID


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