Back-to-school politics: Debate over in-person learning dividing lawmakers

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The debate about how to go back to school in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – whether it be in person, online, or both – continues to divide Americans.

“This is really, really a hard situation,” Rep. David Price (D-NC) said.

In the Tampa Bay area of Florida this week, the Hillsborough County school district rolled back its plan for virtual learning after the state threatened to take away funding.

“You shouldn’t have the State of Florida threatening a local school board that listened to public health experts,” Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) said.

Castor, who represents Hillsborough County, said that the Tampa area school district was told that it wasn’t safe to fully reopen.

“Hillsborough County Schools had it right. They listened to public health experts,” she added.

But another representative from the Tampa Bay area – Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) – said he’s pleased the school district switched gears.

“I think they should provide an option to the parents in their district,” Steube said.

“I think it should go back to what is best for the children,” he added.

And what’s best for the children is at the heart of the debate.

“To open schools, in my opinion, should not be an option,” Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) said.

Hice believes schools should open because kids, he said, are the safest from the virus.

“The chances of them having any serious outcomes from COVID is extremely rare,” Hice added.

The CDC said children don’t appear to be affected by COVID-19 as seriously as adults but they are not immune.

Rep. Price (D-NC) said Congress should help schools get the money they need to open safely.

“I think it’s one of the hardest aspects of this pandemic,” he said. “But I also admire what they’re doing and I want to be helpful.”

Congress can’t be helpful any time soon as it’s in recess now until after Labor Day – so far, without a deal on additional COVID-19 relief.

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