The biggest concern I am hearing about these days – by far – is whether or not Minnesota is going to reopen schools this fall. The governor has said he will announce his decision around the end of July, but I am strongly encouraging him to let local districts make their own decisions.
For one thing, the COVID pandemic has impacted the metro area far, far differently than greater Minnesota. For another, it may not be possible for dense school districts in Minneapolis, for example, to open safely; but smaller schools in rural areas certainly won’t have that same issue.
Even the experts say that the best thing for kids is to reopen schools with kids in the classrooms:
CDC Director Robert Redfield: “I’m of the point of view as a public health leader in this nation, that having the schools actually closed is a greater public health threat to the children than having the schools reopen.”
American Academy of Pediatrics: “The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with the goal of having students physically present in school. The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.”
There is also significant evidence to suggest that kids not only low risk of contracting the virus, but are also don’t transmit it to others. Yes, there are rare exceptions. But the risk is exceedingly low. In fact, Reuters and Science Magazine both reported that investigations into countries that have reopened schools found that it did not contribute to spreading the virus.
I have spoken to so many parents who are worried about what will happen to their children if schools don’t fully re-open. According to Education Trust, nearly nine in 10 parents are worried about their children falling behind academically due to coronavirus-related school closures. This is very similar to the feedback I have received, and feedback I am sure the governor has received. I sincerely hope he listens to what parents are telling him.
Of course, that decision shouldn’t be his to make in the first place. On July 13, I voted to end the governor’s emergency powers for the second time. Unfortunately, in order to remove his powers House Democrats must also vote to cancel his powers – a vote which they certainly will never take.
It is disappointing, because allowing the governor to keep his powers is clearly only about politics. By virtually every measure, we are not in an emergency. We have enough PPE, resources, and hospital beds. We are meeting almost every single one of the ‘dial-back’ measures the governor uses to track our progress. The governor’s frightening public health predictions have not only not come true, but they were wildly off the mark.
There’s no legitimate reason for the emergency powers to continue. I will vote to cancel them at every opportunity, but until he gives them up on his own or House Democrats join us, the powers will continue.