A group of 66 Republicans accused President Joe Biden of rejecting the scientific consensus over reopening schools.
Led by Rep. Jason Smith (R., Missouri), the lawmakers sent Biden a letter Thursday urging him to “follow the science” and press state and local leaders across the United States to reopen schools.
The letter reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon notes that there is “little evidence showing that in-person classroom instruction contributes to the spread of COVID-19,” citing a January study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
He also criticizes the Biden administration for contradicting the government’s top scientists. After Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said there is “mounting data suggesting schools can reopen,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed the comment, claiming Walensky “spoke in her personal capacity.”
“Despite expert opinion, your White House continues to ignore the science,” the text stated. “Our children are suffering and it is time to allow them to resume their education with face-to-face instruction.”
Although Biden promised to reopen schools, the president faced pushback from teachers’ unions who said it was not safe to return to the classroom until everyone had received the vaccine.
Recently, some of these have changed their minds and now say teachers and students should be vaccinated before reopening schools.
School closures have had a devastating effect on students, the letter adds. Many children with emotional or behavioral difficulties depend on access to school resources to receive the therapies and support systems they need. School closings have had a negative impact on mental health: in Clark County, Nevada, the suicide rate among teens and children was double what it was in 2019 in just nine months.
“We respectfully ask that you begin the process of reopening schools and businesses in the United States,” the text reads. “The time for politics and stoking fear is behind us. The future of our economy and our children is at stake.”