Back to school: Congress divided as schools in south prepare to reopen amid coronavirus pandemic

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As students in the south prepare to return to the classroom in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the back to school debate is dividing Congress. Some lawmakers want kids back in the classroom for in-person learning while others say teachers and students need far more resources before they return.

“Not going to school has a downside,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Thursday.

Graham says it’s important to get kids back to school in person.

“Bill Gates said today that children do not spread the virus like adults,” he added.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, says children are not immune.

“Well, generally when you say a person is immune – that (means) they’re protected from getting infected. And children do get infected,” Fauci said Friday.

Fauci and other top health experts testified during a Congressional hearing on Friday about the coronavirus pandemic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield testified as well. Redfield says getting kids safely back into the classroom protects them from other health issues.

“Increased drug overdose, deaths and now increased suicides. I think it is really important as a grandfather – 11 grandkids – I want kids back in school,” he said.

Others on Capitol Hill say lawmakers have already run out of time to come up with a plan.

“We got schools in Alabama that are set to open next week,” Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) said Thursday.

Jones says teachers in his state have no direction on how to protect both themselves and their students.

Earlier this month, Jones introduced a bill with physician and Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy to give more resources to schools. It’s gone nowhere.

“To have this right here in front of us this late in this game after we’ve been begging to try to get this stuff on the floor of the senate for a long time – is unconscionable,” Jones said Thursday.

Jones and Graham are both pushing for more education funding in the next coronavirus relief bill.

But negotiations between Democrats and Republicans?

“Well they’re stuck but we need to get to ‘yes,’” Graham said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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