WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, spoke on the Senate floor on the need to safely reopen schools across the country and urged other states to follow Iowa’s lead in safely getting kids back in the classroom.
Ernst’s full remarks are below:
“The experts, the health officials, and the data have made it clear: we can, and we should, safely reopen our schools.
“But parents, students, and even some teachers are asking the question – why have we failed to do that?
“There’s a pretty simple answer: politicians are putting political interests ahead of the livelihoods of our kids and of our families.
“According to the science presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), schools can dust off their books and safely open up classrooms to students with common sense precautions.
“Transmission of COVID among students is relatively rare and classrooms have not been a significant source of community transmission, according to the CDC .
“Furthermore, the CDC says “it is possible for communities to reduce the incidence of COVID-19, while keeping schools open for in-person instruction.”
“So, Mr. President, what is the hold up?
“Despite his CDC’s own advice, President Biden’s administration continues to play games, to ignore the science, and to send mixed messages to the American People.
“Their lack of clarity and their reluctance to get students back in the classroom is a detriment to our children, our working families, and our economy.
“Just recently, President Biden’s own CDC Director stated that the ‘vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools” and “that there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen.’
“But shortly after her statement, the White House Press Secretary moved the goal posts once again—claiming that the Biden Administration’s aim is to have more than 50 percent of schools offer ‘some teaching’ in person ‘at least one day a week’ by the 100th day of Joe Biden’s presidency. One day a week, folks.
“Yes, you heard it right: have kids in school only one day per week, and no sooner than the end of April.
“Just days after this – after coming under immense pressure from the American people, including folks on the Left – the president moved the goalposts again and threw his communications staff under the bus – a school bus – for the “one day a week” goal.
“Folks, our youngest generation is falling behind: virtual learning does not give them the attention they need to be successful, and the isolation it creates has had an enormous impact on their mental health.
“But it’s not just impacting our kids, the closure of schools and child care centers has disproportionately impacted women, most notably our moms.
“An analysis from the National Women’s Law Center found that 275,000 women left the workforce in January alone—with many staying home to care for their kids and often becoming their de-facto teachers and tutors.
“Women across the country have made enormous strides in all fields of service, and our moms shouldn’t be forced to put their careers on hold because our schools, at the direction of this administration, are failing to do their jobs.
“In Iowa, because of Governor Reynolds’ bold leadership, many of our kids have safely been back in school since last August.
“The Iowa General Assembly passed and the governor signed legislation to require safe, in-person learning in our state’s public school system.
“Now, the rest of the country needs to follow Iowa’s lead and get our kids safely back in the classroom.
“At the federal level—I’m helping lead an effort that would require schools to offer a safe in-person learning option to students by April 30, 2021.
“Mr. President, it’s increasingly clear the Biden Administration – one that prides itself in following the science – is actually more loyal to Left-wing special interests than the well-being of our kids.
“Science, not special interests, should be guiding these decisions.
“And that means Washington should not be locking students out of the classroom.
“This type of meddling is precisely why I have always been leery of the over involvement of the federal government in education.
“So to get bureaucrats and special interests out of the way and to put students first, I’m helping lead that effort that would require schools to offer a safe in-person learning option? to our students by April 30, 2021.
“To guide us through this pandemic, I suggest we follow these revised and updated three R’s of education: respect the science; reopen our schools safely; return students, teachers, and learning to the classroom
“It is long past time schools across the country follow the science and the data. Let’s do the right thing by safely getting our kids back in the classroom and help get our parents back to work.
“The wellbeing of our children, our working moms and dads, and our nation’s economy depend on it.”