ST. PAUL – With thousands of Minnesota students still in remote learning, House Republicans on Thursday moved to take urgent action on legislation providing more local control over school-related decisions and removing the governor’s ability to unilaterally keep them closed.
State Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, supported the plan and said many students and families continue suffering detrimental impacts of distance learning as it takes a toll on academic achievement, mental health, and more.
“We know our children best and it is time that parents, in collaboration with local teachers and school officials, are able to make decisions that meet their particular needs,” Swedzinski said. “This is all about local control and people being able to make choices regarding the health and welfare of our children instead of those decisions lying in the hands of our governor.”
While many area schools have returned full time, many more remain in part-time or full-time distance learning. Swedzinski said science and data show we can safely get our students back in the classroom. He noted President Joe Biden’s CDC director has said multiple times that we could safely return to in-person learning before all teachers are vaccinated.
Swedzinski said he’s disappointed the governor continues to ignore the science and is failing to bring teachers and students safely back to the classroom in schools throughout the state.
“The sad reality is people are concerned about a culture of fear that has been festering in our state over losing state funding for not following the governor’s orders to a ‘T,’” Swedzinski said. “Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of our children.”
The House Republicans’ proposal to act on the bill (H.F. 1051) Thursday failed on a party-line vote, with House Democrats blocking the effort and voting in favor of allowing the governor to keep his school-closing authority.