WASHINGTON (WANE) — A new piece of legislation co-authored by Rep. Jim Banks calls for schools that do not reopen in the fall amid the ongoing coronavirus threat to lose federal funding.
Banks (R-3rd) and Rep. Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin recently introduced the Reopen Our Schools Act. If passed, it would prohibit schools (elementary to university) from receiving federal funds unless they reopen by Sept. 8. Only in-person classes count as re-opening, the bill suggests.
In a news release, Banks’ office said research suggests children are at a relatively very low risk of becoming infected by coronavirus, and remote learning does not work. The northeast Indiana congressman said schools must reopen.
“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. “America is the land of opportunity where education is guaranteed to all children. We’re not living up that guarantee at the moment.
“Reopening our schools is the lynchpin to reopening our economy. 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.”
Earlier this month, the Indiana State Department of Education released a comprehensive, 35-page guide for schools on how to re-open later after July 1. The plan stresses that schools must be able to maintain a safe and healthy school environment with an understanding of the prevalence of COVID-19 in their community.
Schools will need to constantly evaluate those factors because the prevalence of the virus will fluctuate over the coming months with some areas being affected differently than others.
Gov. Eric Holcomb has said said there is no “one size fits all” approach for reopening the schools.
Indiana recently passed 40,000 coronavirus cases statewide. State Department of Health statistics show 5.7 percent of the cases are children under 19.