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Arrington to President Biden: ‘The science is clear: all schools can and should reopen to in-person learning’

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jodey Arrington (TX-19) led seven of his colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden imploring him to follow the science and immediately reopen schools. Students across the country have suffered adverse effects from being out of the classroom for nearly a year, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has been urging schools for months to reopen safely for the sake of students’ health. 

In the letter, Reps. Yvette Herrell, Ronny Jackson, Brian Babin, Alex Mooney, Randy Weber, Michael Cloud and Dan Bishop state that any school that refuses to re-open should not receive federal COVID relief funding. Instead, Rep. Arrington and his colleagues believe that funding should go directly to families to help alleviate financial strains of continued online learning. 

“The Biden Administration has repeatedly changed their stance on reopening schools, blatantly ignoring the science from their own doctors and health advisors that supports reopening schools immediately. As the Biden Administration jeopardizes the lives of an entire generation of American students, the pandemic lockdown continues to impede students’ academic success, damage their mental health, and disrupt their entire support system, especially for the most vulnerable,” said Rep. Arrington. “President Biden should listen to parents and follow the science – schools should reopen immediately.” 

Excerpts from the letter: 

“It has been nearly one year since many students across the country moved to full-time virtual learning, and the consequences could not be clearer. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, switching to online learning was necessary while Americans learned more about the virus and its impact on our students, teachers, and families. However, as time passed and we learned more about the adverse effects that school closures have on the mental, physical, and social well-being of our children, many schools re-evaluated the impact of online learning.”

“It is our responsibility to ensure every student and family has the freedom and opportunity to pursue educational and developmental excellence. It is simple: schools across the country have the resources to re-open to in-person learning, and they must do so immediately.”

Background:

  • On December 8th, 2020, President Joe Biden promised to “reopen the majority of schools” within his first 100 days in office. Biden has since clarified that high school students were not included in that vow. Various Biden Administration officials have given different answers about school openings.
  • On January 24th, 2021, The New York Times reported that Clark County schools in Las Vegas, Nevada, the nation’s fifth largest school district, experienced a rise in mental health emergencies and suicide rates, indicating the negative effects of school closures and the pandemic lockdown.
  • On February 16th, 2021, President Joe Biden said, “most K-8 school children should return full-time by May,” adding that ‘high school and college students may have to wait longer to return to the classroom.’ These comments distanced himself from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki who has said, “His goal that he set is to have the majority of schools – so, more than 50% – open by day 100 of his presidency…and that means some teaching in classrooms. So, at least one day a week.”
  • On February 15th, 2021, NBC News reported a new study from NBC News and Challenge Success that remote students are more stressed than their peers in the classroom. 
  • On February 17th, 2021, Vice President Kamala Harris appeared in an interview on NBC’s “Today Show” and repeatedly dodged questions about the CDC’s guidelines on school reopenings under the Biden Administration.
  • On February 21st, 2021, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allery and Infectious Disease, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that ‘we should try to do everything we can’ to reopen schools.

Full text of the letter can be found here.

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