WASHINGTON – United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) joined Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and other colleagues in calling for regular public updates on the reopening status of our nation’s schools and accountability for how the hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money that is going to the federal Department of Education for COVID relief is being spent.
“We know that keeping our children out of the classroom is detrimental to their learning and overall health,” Senator Hagerty said. “Over the past year, billions of dollars have been allocated to getting kids back in school, but there is no urgency from bureaucrats in many school districts to make that a reality. It’s time to stop ignoring the science and reopen our schools, that’s why I am supporting the School Reopening and Spending Transparency Act.”
The School Reopening and Spending Transparency Act would require the Department of Education to publish information on the use of COVID relief dollars and schools’ operating status.
Under the School Reopening and Spending Transparency Act, the Department of Education would establish and maintain a public website tracking the education expenditures by states of federal funds from the major COVID relief bills Congress has passed since the start of the pandemic, including the Democrats’ latest $1.9 trillion bill that included $128.6 billion in relief for schools. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that only 5 percent of the funding in the latest bill will actually be spent by the end of this fiscal year. In fact, it would take seven years for the money to be spent in its entirety.
This bill would also require the Department to report and update monthly the operating status of the nation’s school districts during the 2020-21 school year, tracking the number of days they are closed to in-person learning, providing hybrid learning, or providing an option for full-time, in-person instruction for all students.
In January, leading health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that America’s schools should reopen as soon as possible if precautions are taken. President Biden’s own CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has also stated that it is clear “that there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen.”