Senate Republicans passed a resolution earlier this week to allow school districts to decide the best option for their students this fall.

Additionally, a bill to provide $25 million in grants to reopen schools was stopped by Senate Democrats’ refusal to support bringing the bill to the floor.

District 16 Senator Gary Dahms of Redwood Falls criticized the idea of mandated online school in the fall.

“When I look at the school districts within the area I represent, there is huge variety in size and need. The governor seems to think that whatever fits metro schools should fit our rural school districts at their expense. Rural kids’ education matters, too. These school districts are led by sharp community leaders, elected school board members and strong school administrators who are used to making tough decisions. It’s time to recognize our local leadership, rather than allowing a unilateral dictate that could harm our local school districts,” said Dahms. 

Recent studies have argued reopening schools safely this fall is important for the overall well-being of students.

The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) said, “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.”

Nine out of 10 parents surveyed by Education Trust reported they were worried about their child falling behind due to COVID-related closures.

The Minnesota Department of Education’s own survey found 64 percent of parents want to have students back in schools this fall.

Sen. Michelle Benson of Ham Lake attempted to bring forward a grants bill for schools from the federal CARES funds. Senate Democrats refused to declare an emergency approval of the bill and appropriate the funds for use in schools immediately.

Funds from the bill could be used to ensure ongoing student and staff safety and health and to ensure students receive basic and enriched educational services.