Republican lawmakers question state's guidance on reopening schools | KOB 4

Republican lawmakers question state's guidance on reopening schools

Ryan Laughlin
Updated: July 19, 2020 10:19 PM
Created: July 19, 2020 06:57 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —School districts across the state are trying to figure out how and when kids will return to the classroom and are relying on the state’s guidance to craft a plan, however some Republican lawmakers are questioning how the state arrived at these guidelines.

On July 6, Republican leaders sent a letter to Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham and the public education secretary asking specific questions that were brought to them by their constituents about school reopening. Nearly two weeks later, they said they still have no received a response.

"They're either too busy to answer, or they just aren't planning to. I hope it's not the latter,” said Rep. Jim Townsend (R-District 54), Republican Minority Leader.

Rep. Townsend is questioning the state’s approach to reopening schools.

"We're hurting right now, and we need some real stout leadership to get us through this,” he said.

In the letter, Townsend said data from 20 European countries that have reopened schools is encouraging and said there is growing evidence that elementary-aged children don’t spread the virus at the same rate as older people.

"I think the governor would be well-served to involve the legislature more,” he said.

A spokesperson for the governor said the state’s guidance for reopening schools was crafted by legislative committees in the House and Senate and their medical advisory team weighs-in using their most recent scientific evidence.

“Not so much politics, just tell us the real story, and we'll make the decisions,” Townsend said.

On Sunday, the governor’s spokesperson re-tweeted Townsend’s post and pointed out a disproportionate increase in COVID-19 cases near his district.

"I think there are many kids that could go back to school this fall,” Townsend added.

He said school districts in areas of the state where there are fewer cases should be able to make their own decisions.

"You will see communities rise up and make sure that those kids and those administrators and teachers are protected, that they have the right type of equipment, and they follow protocol,” he said.

A spokesperson from the governor’s office said that the Public Education Department is preparing a response to answer the questions Townsend is asking. They also said it’s interesting that Republicans are pointing to scientific studies in the letter, but are resistant to embrace the scientific studies regarding mask-wearing and encouraging their use in their communities.

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