Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis said parents should be refunded for property tax payments and tuition if schools aren’t allowed to reopen in the fall.
“The more we learn about COVID, the more it becomes apparent that we have done a huge disservice to our children in the way we have handled this virus. Research has proven that COVID presents minimal risks to young people. But what isn’t minimal is the toll this prolonged lockdown and social isolation has on our kids’ social, mental, and physical well-being,” Lewis said in a statement released Wednesday.
Three scenarios are possible for the 2020-21 school year, including continued distance learning, the resumption of in-person instruction, or a mix of the two. The state Department of Health, Department of Education, and Gov. Tim Walz won’t be deciding which option is the safest until the week of July 27.
In the meantime, school districts have been directed to develop contingency plans for all three scenarios.
Adam Seidel, a member of the Eden Prairie School Board, said the “delay and lack of clarity is outrageous and unacceptable” in a statement released last month.
“Quality of education has declined, crisis hotlines are seeing their phones explode, high school seniors have missed graduations, and kids have had to forgo their favorite sports. The impact of long-term at-home learning is far more detrimental than some of our public health experts would have us believe,” Lewis said Wednesday.
The governor expressed doubt this week about the possibility of schools returning to full capacity in the fall.
“It is still my intention for us to try and find a model where we get as many students back in the building as possible,” Walz told reporters. “I think if you’d have asked us three weeks ago I was much more certain that we’d be able to move a large number back in than I am today.”
Looks like MN Gov. Walz is signaling that schools won’t reopen (at least fully) come fall. pic.twitter.com/YiGoRm4ZRs
— Kyle Hooten (@KyleHooten2) July 8, 2020
In late June, Walz announced a “public-private partnership” to provide internet access to students across Minnesota, which suggests the state is preparing for continued distance learning.
📡💻Today we announced a public-private partnership to keep MN connected. We’ll work together to provide technology and internet access to students across the state.
This is a team effort. Thank you to @BestBuy, @Comcast, @blandinFound, @spmcfoundations, and @BizPartnership. pic.twitter.com/YSNeytdyvt
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) June 30, 2020
Lewis concluded his statement by calling on the state to move forward with reopening plans for the upcoming school year.
“There is no rational reason to keep kids out of schools this fall, and those who continue to hinder this do not have our kids’ best interest in mind. It is unconscionable what we have deliberately done to young people,” he said. “Virtual learning won’t cut it. If schools are not allowed to reopen, parents and students should be refunded their tuition or property taxes. Failure to do so is a breach of contract. It’s time to stop shortchanging our students and ripping off taxpayers and parents. The well-being of our kids depends on it.”
– – –
Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Jason Lewis” by Jason Lewis.