Republican lawmakers in Minnesota have set out their priorities for the upcoming legislative session beginning Monday.
One of them is to address the issue of forced masking in classrooms across the state.
At a Wednesday press conference announcing the Senate GOP’s priorities, Sen. Roger Chamberlain stated that in the educational sphere they will focus on getting “back to basics.”
It’s part of an effort, he said, to give more of a voice to parents and “educators on the ground,” whose concerns and ideas are often ignored in favor of those of education lobbyists and institutions.
Chamberlain, chairman of the Minnesota Senate’s Education Committee, said the three key areas are in reading, empowering parents, and children’s mental health.
Concerning mental health, Chamberlain emphatically called for fully in-person learning and the repeal of any and all school mask mandates.
“We have to get back to normal, folks. Back to normal,” he said. “All kids need to be in school. It is what has to be done. People understand that now, and there should be no excuse.”
“No masks. Back to normal,” he added. “That disruption is without a doubt — it should be very clear for people now — we have to focus on recovery.”
He said school administrators and teachers unions need to “stop messing around” with children’s education.
“Kids need the stability and the structure of the schools,” he said. “And they need to be out of masks. There is no reason they need to be in masks. There is no reason for all these other draconian steps.”
In addition to undoing COVID restrictions, Chamberlain also called for efforts to combat excessive screen time and social media use among students. He tied it together with efforts to get children to read more often.
“If kids are reading and they’re learning and they know they have hope, their mental health is obviously going to be better,” the state senator said.
Other Senate GOP priorities include permanent tax relief, mandatory prison sentences for violent offenders, and allocating money for police departments to hire more officers.
Watch the full press conference below: