What they said: Idaho delegation speaks on school reopening

For Thursday’s analysis piece on the politics of school reopening, Idaho Education News asked for comments from Idaho’s congressional delegation.

We asked the four Republicans to weigh in on President Trump’s push to reopen the nation’s schools in the fall — and his threat to withhold federal dollars from schools that remain closed.

Here are their statements, in full:

Sen. Mike Crapo: “Senator Crapo has always held that decisions about education should be made at the local level. In addition, he believes the federal government should provide schools with  the resources necessary to safely open in the fall.”

Sen. Jim Risch: “We should be doing all we can to safely return Idaho’s students to school this fall. The data is clear that students learn best when they are in the classroom and it would allow parents to begin to return to the workplace. However, families and educators are understandably concerned about how to best protect kids, teachers and vulnerable members of the community given the ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19. Across America, the conditions are very different in every school district. These determinations are best made at the state and local level, and I have full confidence in the ability of Idaho’s community and education leaders to make prudent judgments based on local health data and what is best for each community.”

Rep. Mike Simpson: “Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Congressman Simpson and his staff have heard from families and educators about the safety concerns that are top of mind in continuing students’ education. He has also learned of students across Idaho who lack sufficient technology or access to reliable broadband internet to complete their studies, or who rely on their school for a hot meal or social and mental support. Congressman Simpson applauds Governor Little for working diligently alongside teachers, parents, local officials and health experts to create a plan that will get Idaho children back to school for in-person education. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to what classrooms will look like in the fall, it is Congressman Simpson’s hope that all states and localities will follow the lead of Governor Little and President Trump and urge the safe reopening of in-person education at the end of the summer.”

Rep. Russ Fulcher: “I support opening schools and educating our kids in-person when it can be done in a way that is responsible to public health and safety, and believe our local school districts and state are in the best position to determine when to open schools based on local education, health, and other appropriate parameters. In regard to federal funding, these taxpayer dollars ultimately must be accounted for, to whatever degree the schools are operating or remain shut down.”

 

Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television; and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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