Newest Legislation Proposal Pressures Schools To Reopen

The Put Students First Act of 2021 Is Under Congressional Review


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Florida senators amongst legislators pushing for in-school learning option.

Victoria Filippi, Editor in Chief

As coronavirus cases rise, students made their return to school following winter break, yet the mandate encouraging some online students to transition to in-person was tumultuous.

Under the newest mandate, online students with failing letter grades in any of their courses would report to in-person learning in the second semester. 

“Parents of about 76,000 South Florida children will soon receive letters saying their kids are failing at distance learning and they need to come back to campus,” the Sun-Sentinel wrote. 

With parental consent, remote learning students that are failing can remain at home. Parents choosing to keep their children at home may fear that their students will contract the virus because of lenient travel restrictions. Others feel that the precautions taken by schools are not enough to ensure their child’s safety. 

The newest piece of legislation on the floor, however, targets schools that refuse to operate in-person. Senators from Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Montana drafted the Put Students First Act of 2021 for Congressional review. 

Should “a school continues to cave to the unions at the expense of their students, they should not receive funding.” Florida Senator Marco Rubio stated in an op-ed. 

Under this legislation, schools with the highest prioritization of in-person learning will receive a financial grant as an aid. 

“If a State described in subparagraph (A) does not submit an implementation plan to the Secretary of Education by not later than May 15, 2021, as described in subparagraph (A), the funds available to such State shall be provided as grants to States with the highest percentage of local educational agencies in the State serving schools that offer in-person instruction (either on a full-time basis or a hybrid basis with home learning)” the Put Students First Act of 2021 states. 

Additionally, this piece of legislation would force institutions that do not provide in-person learning to return or refund FY21 and COVID-19 relief. 

“An elementary school or secondary school that receives Federal funds appropriated for fiscal year 2021 under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 18 6301 et seq.) or appropriated for COVID-19 relief on or after the date of enactment of this Act that does not offer in-person instruction (either on a full time basis or a hybrid basis with home learning) for all students enrolled in the school by not later than April 30, 2021, shall forfeit any Federal funds appropriated for fiscal year 2021.” The Put Students First Act of 2021 writes.

The financial maneuver is cornering schools to expand the options they supply students and their parents. Despite the health risk, supporters of the bill believe that some students learn better in school and improve their mental health by socially stimulating them. 

“Virtual learning is just not the same as being in person,” Governor Ron DeSantis said. 

Opposers of the bill warn that reintroducing students all at once into a campus may potentially lead to an outbreak. Likewise, if an institute is not prepared to enforce safety protocols teachers and faculty may also be at risk for contracting the virus from their students. 

“The many benefits of in-person schooling should be weighed against the risks of spreading COVID-19 in the school and community” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated.