House Democrats on Tuesday voted against reopening America's schools. Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-IA) brought the Reopen Schools Act to the House floor to provide grants to schools that hold in-person classes for students. It was a way of ensuring the $54.3 billion Congress appropriated last month would be used for its intended purpose.
"Students have been out of the classroom for far too long—and the costs of at home learning are far greater than we could have ever imagined, especially when it comes to the mental health of our kids," Hinson said on the House floor. "My bill, the Reopen Schools Act, would prioritize state COVID relief grants for education for schools that are reopening."
Under Hinson's bill, schools would qualify for the grant if they reopen schools, for in-person learning, at least on a part-time basis.
"These funds were intended to get students back into the classroom safely, taking important precautions. Congress sent states this money so we could reopen schools safely and yet this hasn't happened in so many communities across our country," she said.
The congresswoman cited a Washington Post article that found that roughly one-third of all schools are only operating online, which increases mental health challenges, including depression and anxiety.
"The science shows kids need to be back in school," Hinson explained, citing CDC studies that say children have an extremely low rate of both infection and transmission.
One of the issues with virtual learning is the lack of access to computers and internet, especially in rural areas.
For some, virtual learning "is not just going down stairs and logging into the family computer. It's sitting in the parking lot of a Cedar Rapids Public Library, logging onto the WiFi to finish homework or take a test."
"It's no surprise our most vulnerable students are the ones who will and are suffering," Hinson said. "Isolation, lack of support, added stress and the environmental strain of this lockdown have gone on for far too long. Kids and families are suffering."
The final vote was 219 to 207.
WATCH:@RepAshleyHinson: "Students have been out of the classroom for far too long—and the costs of at home learning are far greater than we could have ever imagined."— Mark Bednar (@MarkBednar) February 2, 2021
"My bill, the Reopen Schools Act, would prioritize state COVID relief grants for schools that are reopening." pic.twitter.com/qiRUtaSexI