At Select Subcommittee Hearing, Democrats Highlight Biden Administration’s Success in Getting Kids Back in School
Washington, D.C. (March 28, 2023)—Today, Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D., Ranking Member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, led Select Subcommittee Democrats in demonstrating the Biden Administration’s success in reopening the country’s schools and exposing Republicans’ commitment to spreading harmful misinformation that threatens children’s long-term health and well-being.
“The Biden Administration took swift action to develop evidence-based guidance for schools. And Congressional Democrats enacted the American Rescue Plan to help get kids in schools safely and responsibly. The results speak for themselves. One year after President Biden was sworn into office, our efforts more than doubled the number of schools open for full-time in-person learning to 95%. And schools didn’t just reopen—they stayed open,” said Ranking Member Ruiz in his opening statement.
The hearing included testimony from National Association of School Nurses Executive Director Donna Mazyck, R.N., who provided insight into how Democrats’ “people over politics” approach will help ensure that America’s children have the resources to live and learn healthily and safely.
Select Subcommittee Democrats demonstrated how the Trump Administration’s failed handling of the coronavirus pandemic forced the prolonged suspension of in-person learning and undermined efforts to safely and responsibly get kids back in school.
- Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jamie Raskin brought attention to the Trump Administration’s missteps that had long-lasting effects on schools’ pandemic response: “COVID-19 was a catastrophe for our country as Donald Trump presided over a historic debacle of a public health response. You don’t need to go to the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, or the American Nursing Association to conclude that Trump’s lethal recklessness and lying led to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. You just have to go to Trump's own COVID-19 advisor Dr. Deborah Birx.”
- When asked by Congressman Raskin about how the impacts of the Trump Administration’s failure to secure appropriate PPE, Ms. Mazyck highlighted how the lack of PPE under President Trump put schools and their communities at risk: “The unavailability of sufficient PPE was a concern, Ranking Member Raskin, because of the health care workers [and] the school nurses who were working with students.”
- Congresswoman Tokuda also highlighted President Trump’s reckless approach to reopening schools by threatening to withhold much-needed federal funding: “If we're going to take anything meaningful away from this tragedy and from this hearing today, it's that funding from the federal government works, not reckless reopening and threatening with funding.”
Select Subcommittee Democrats pushed back on Republicans’ repeated attempts to undermine confidence in lifesaving public health measures that helped get kids back in the classroom.
- Congresswoman Debbie Dingell pushed back against efforts to misrepresent the Cochrane review to undermine confidence in mask effectiveness: “In fact, the editor-in-chief of the Cochrane Library, which published the study that was referenced, issued a statement saying exactly that. Dr. Karla Soares-Weiser said, ‘many commentators have claimed that a recently updated review showed that masks don't work, which is an inaccurate and misleading interpretation.’ The overwhelming body of scientific evidence indicates that wearing masks—particularly well-fitting masks like KN95s—is effective at preventing COVID-19.”
- Congressman Robert Garcia drew on his experience as Mayor of Long Beach, California to demonstrate the success of a science-based approach to getting kids back in school: “Back in Long Beach, we were the first city in California to vaccinate all of our public school teachers, we were also the large school district to re-open all of our schools because we were the first to vaccinate all of our public school teachers. The White House called Long Beach the vaccination model because we were committed to opening schools and working with our teachers. This all happened, in spite, of the very little support we received from the Trump Administration early on, without any plan on how to open schools.”
Select Subcommittee Democrats highlighted the success of the American Rescue Plan in safely and responsibly reopening schools and how we can build on its successes to ensure America’s children thrive both now and into the future.
- Congresswoman Deborah Ross said: “As part of the American Rescue Plan, Congressional Democrats included a historic investment of more than a hundred and twenty-two billion dollars of extra funds—or the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, which distributed that funding to schools and communities across the United States. These dollars can be used to facilitate academic recovery, modernize school facilities, bridge the digital divide, address staffing shortages, and provide physical and mental health services to students.”
- In response to questioning from Congresswoman Deborah Ross about the crucial funding included in the American Rescue Plan to help schools prepare for future public health emergencies, Donna Mazyck, R.N. answered: “Right now, we know that schools and local health authorities need to work together to be able to make decisions about health and safety in schools, and the funding that’s happened that’s been available to schools has enabled those entities to connect and collaborate. We’ve seen school-located vaccination clinics provided in schools so that students are caught up with their routine vaccinations. That happened because of funding.”