Back to school: Lawmakers debate safest options for students, teachers as schools prepare to reopen

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As more teachers and students return to the classroom, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are debating if it’s safe to go back to in-person learning in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Christy Foust is preparing to return to her classroom in Pinellas County, Florida despite calls from teachers, parents and students to move online.

“People have been told go to work or resign or retire,” Foust said Monday.

Foust says a recent survey asking parents if they preferred face-to-face or virtual learning automatically defaulted to the in-person option if nothing was selected.

“Is that what they really wanted, did they really understand what would happen,” Foust wondered.

Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis says parents should be able to choose what option is best for their family.

“Would you feel comfortable going back to school this fall?” Washington Correspondent Kellie Meyer asked Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) on Friday.

“It all depends what school I was in, what community I was in,” Clyburn responded.

Clyburn is a former high school teacher and said in areas where cases are rising, “I think you would be crazy to go back.”

Republican Georgia Congressman Doug Collins says he understands some schools might have to delay in-person learning but states, “there can never be the thought of this being the new norm.”

Collins says it’s important for teachers to safely get back to in-person learning as soon as possible.

“They need to feel safe enough to go back in and this is something we can overcome,” he said.

Both Collins and Clyburn believe it’s up to the local communities to decide what is best.

But Dr. Foust says more federal funding would help.

“It would make it easier for us to do what’s right,” she said.

Just over $100 billion in education funding could be included in the next coronavirus relief package.

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