Today, Congresswoman Hinson once again called for consideration of her Reopen Schools Act, legislation that would help students get back into the classroom safely. This is the third time that Republicans have called for this legislation to be considered by the House.
“I rise today to oppose the previous question. This is the third time that Republicans have called on this body to consider my bill, the Reopen Schools Act. It’s a common-sense solution to help get students and teachers to return to the classroom, and do it safely. This legislation would condition a portion of state COVID relief grants for education on schools actually reopening.
“My Democrat colleagues already voted for these funds to be used specifically for schools to reopen safely back in December–$54 billion dollars. The science on this is definitive. If certain safety precautions are taken, teachers and students can resume in person learning safely. That’s why Congress sent states this money back in December.
But, after nearly a year of this pandemic lockdown, millions of students are still learning exclusively from behind a screen. Our children are struggling academically and they are falling behind. But the toll on mental health is what is most concerning to me. Even after a year–many kids still haven’t seen their school friends. They haven’t been out to play on the playground. They are isolated, disconnected, and lonely.
“From increased stress and anxiety, depression, even suicidal thoughts or attempts—our youngest generation is facing a mental health crisis. Hospitals have seen a staggering increase in mental health emergencies among young children. It’s heartbreaking. The longer the goal posts continue to be moved on reopening schools, the worse this mental health crisis for our young people will become.
“My home state of Iowa is leading the way to put students’ education and mental health first. My two sons got on the school bus this morning in Iowa. They are in class right now receiving hands on attention from their teachers, and they will play with their friends at recess today.
“As a parent, I am grateful that I had the ability to make the right choice for my children and send them back to class to learn in person. But millions of parents around the country have not been given this choice, with many school districts still only offering virtual learning.
“I’ve heard from so many families who are struggling as schools remain shuttered and have no clear timetable for reopening. It’s vulnerable families with at-risk children who are impacted the most. Let’s think about the kids who don’t have access to a computer or Wi-Fi to try and complete their lessons online.
“Or let’s talk about the kids who rely on school breakfast and lunch and are going hungry without these vital nutrition programs. Or what about victims of child abuse and neglect, who are locked in with potential abusers. Or kids who are left at home all day because their parents have no choice but to go to work.
“We cannot allow children and families to continue to suffer right – it’s time for students to go back to the classroom, and we can do it safely. And with the Reopen Schools Act, they will be able to do so safely. Teachers will be back in the classroom safely, and we can get this country moving forward again. I hope my colleagues on both side of the aisle will join me in supporting our students by defeating the previous question. We need to get kids back to school. I urge a no vote. Thank you, and I yield back.”