WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim Banks, a member of the House Education and Labor Committee; and Rep. Tom Tiffany, of Wisconsin, introduced legislation Thursday that would halt a school’s federal funding if they refuse to reopen for in-person learning in the fall. The legislation’s title is “Reopen Our Schools Act.”
“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,'” said Banks in a news release. “America is the land of opportunity where education is guaranteed to all children. We’re not living up to that guarantee at the moment.”
The “Reopen Our Schools Act” is introduced on the heels of a Wall Street Journal report explaining remote learning this spring “didn’t work.” Research suggests remote schooling resulted in approximately 70% of learning gains in reading and below 50% in math relative to traditional schooling. Attempting to implement virtual learning also revealed America’s “digital divide.” Children from rural or poorer families lack access to high-speed Internet and could not complete classwork.
Moreover, school lunch programs are losing millions trying to find and feed hungry students outside of the classroom and reports suggest they could be “broke by fall.”
“Reopening our schools is the lynchpin to reopening our economy,” said Banks. “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.”
Research suggests that children are at relatively very low risk of becoming infected by coronavirus. If they do become infected, the risk of serious illness is extremely rare. As of May 20, only 48 children were admitted to the ICU for COVID. They are also less likely to spread the virus to adults when they get infected.
- The bill prohibits schools (elementary to university) from receiving FY20 funds unless they reopen by Sept. 8
- Schools must provide a plan to reopen safely per their normal operations pre-coronavirus
- The Secretary of Education can create a waiver process at her discretion
- Only in-person classes count as re-opening
- Maximum liability protection for schools