As Published In: Mason City Globe Gazette
Feb 12 2021
At a press conference this week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki 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. Yes, you read that right: President Biden’s goal is to have kids in school only one day per week, and no sooner than the end of April.
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. America’s students deserve better.
In Iowa, because of Governor Reynolds’ bold leadership, many of our kids have been safely back in school since last August. Now, the rest of the country needs to follow our lead.
The science, the data, and the health experts alike have all made it clear that we can and should safely get our kids back in schools. In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that, if the proper precautions are taken, our schools should reopen as soon as possible. And just recently, President Biden’s own CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky, 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.”
Governor Reynolds has led the way on this issue—signing legislation to require safe, in-person learning in our state’s public school system. Unfortunately, many politicians across the country are more loyal to Left-wing special interests than the well-being of our kids, and have failed to take this commonsense step. That’s why—at the federal level—I’m helping lead an effort that will get our kids back in school.
The Put Students First Act of 2021 would prohibit federal funding to schools that do not provide an in-person learning option by April 30, 2021. This is a matter of emotional and academic development and the mental health of our kiddos, as well as the well-being of working families. I’m proud to be a part of this effort that puts our children first.
In addition to the impact on our kids, the closure of schools and child care centers has disproportionately impacted women, most notably 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 are failing to do their jobs.
As a mom, my heart breaks for all the young boys and girls across the country who are struggling as a direct result of remote learning. The toll it’s taken on the progress women have made in the workforce is also devastating. The federal government should be pushing policies that support our next generation of leaders, but instead we’re punishing them.
It’s past time we follow the science and the data—let’s do the right thing by safely getting our kids back in the classroom and help get their parents back to work. Our children, working families, and economy depend on it.
Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.
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