Sixty-six Republican congressmen signed a letter Wednesday accusing President Joe Biden of ignoring the science when it comes to reopening schools, which is something the president promised to do within his first 100 days in office.
The letter, which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, cited an article published in the Journal of American Medicine that concluded holding classes in person carried a minimal risk of spreading COVID-19. The European Center for Disease Control had a similar study and came to the same conclusion, according to the letter.
“We are writing to urge you to live up to your pledge to follow the science on COVID-19 and encourage state and local leaders to reopen schools across the United States,” the letter said.
It also noted that the CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, said, “There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki walked back those statements later that same day, claiming that Walensky’s statements were not official CDC guidance. (RELATED: We Asked Teachers Unions Nationwide Why They Oppose Reopening Schools. Here’s What They Said)
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Although Biden had promised to open schools, the president faced pushback from teachers’ unions who said it was unsafe for teachers to return to the classrooms until they had all received the vaccine. Recently, some teachers’ unions have changed their tune and are now saying that teachers and students must both be vaccinated before schools reopen.
School closures have had a devastating effect on students, the letter added. Many children with emotional or behavioral difficulties depend on access to school resources to get the therapies and support systems that they need. Closing schools has impacted mental health in a negative way – in Clark County, Nevada, the suicide rate among teenagers and children was double what it was last year in just nine months.
The learning gap between high and low-income students is also increasing due to school closures, the letter noted. Students from low-income households may lack the technology necessary to successfully participate in an online class.
Additionally, a study from Yale economist Fabrizio Zilibotti predicted that one year of school closures would decrease the post-educational earning potential of low-income students by 25%, while the post-educational learning potential for high-income students did not decrease by any substantial amount, according to the letter.
“We respectfully request you begin the process of reopening schools and businesses in the United States,” the letter reads. “The time for politics and stoking fear is behind us. The future of our economy and our children are at stake.”