Rep. Banks pushing bill to get schools open by September

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WASHINGTON — One of your members of Congress is putting pressure on schools to reopen as the U.S. takes more steps out of shutdowns from the coronavirus pandemic.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN-03) is putting forth a bill, called the Reopen Our Schools Act, along with Rep. Tom Tiffany, a Republican from Wisconsin, that would require K-12 schools and colleges across the United States to reopen no later than Sept. 8 or else risk losing their federal funding.

The bill defines “reopening” as in-person classes only without any e-learning whatsoever. Schools would have provide a plan to reopen safely “per their normal operations pre-coronavirus.”

“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’,” Banks said in the news release. “America is the land of opportunity where education is guaranteed to all children. We’re not living up that guarantee at the moment.”

Banks and Tiffany said “open-ended” closures of schools between March and May “pushed parents to the breaking point” and they each cite a Wall Street Journal report that examined how E-Learning practices to finish out the school year “didn’t work.” The report also talked about how children are a “very low risk” of becoming infected with coronavirus.

“Reopening our schools is the lynchpin to reopening our economy,” Banks said. “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.”

Banks acknowledges the concern many school districts have in reopening when it comes to liability issues. The bill would also ensure “maximum liability protections” for schools if they fully reopen.

It’s unclear what kind of support the bill has in the House.

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