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Republican House members to introduce “Reopen Our Schools Act”

Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks and Wisconsin Republican Rep. Tom Tiffany want to ensure that schools resume classes in the fall. The two Congressman plan to file the “Reopen Our Schools Act on Thursday. The bill would cut off federal funding to any school that does not reopen for in-person learning in the fall. Most schools, like businesses, were closed down to ride out the coronavirus pandemic and ensure the safety of students and teachers.

“We need to change the subject from ‘our schools might not reopen in the fall’ to ‘our schools will reopen in the fall and here’s what we need to do it,’” Banks told Fox News on Thursday. “America is the land of opportunity where education is guaranteed to all children. We’re not living up that guarantee at the moment.”

Banks said that a recent report found that there are significant impacts on students who are forced to learn remotely. The report highlighted barriers that rural and low income students face in accessing high speed internet needed to complete their schoolwork.  

Tiffany, who was just sworn in to Congress after a special election victory last month, says it’s time to reopen America and get back to school.

“These open-ended school shutdowns have set students back, made it harder for teachers to teach, and pushed parents to the breaking point,” said Tiffany.

Banks and Tiffany are also concerned with the hardship put on parents by schools remaining closed. Parents have become teachers and those that have the option of returning to work have to stay home because they have nowhere to send their children. The congressmen argue that this is putting a major strain on the U.S. economy.

“Reopening our schools is the lynchpin to reopening our economy,” Banks said. “Many parents rely on their kids going to school so they can go to work. To get our society up and running again, we need our children back in school.”

The CDC has said that children have a very low risk of contracting COVID-19 and if they do get the virus they rarely have any serious complications.

Some states are already planning to reopen schools. Virginia is on track to reopen this summer and has no concerns with being open in the fall.

“Resuming in-person instruction is a high priority, but we must do so in a safe, responsible, and equitable manner,” said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

School leaders fear that state legislatures will be forced to make budget cuts and are already lobbying to make sure education is an area that isn’t sliced.

“I am concerned that the economic impact of the pandemic will result in necessary and sustained cuts in PK-12 education funding, Matthew Blomstedt, Nebraska Commissioner of Education told senators during a recent hearing.

Many districts across the U.S. are calling for additional funding due to the economic impact of COVID-19. They point to the need to purchase masks, gloves, and other PPE for students and staff. Additionally, they will need to make some building remodels to better practice social distancing.

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