Congressman Keller: ‘The evidence is clear – students should be allowed back in classrooms’
Washington, D.C. – During Thursday’s House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education hearing, “Lessons Learned: Charting the Path to Educational Equity Post-COVID-19,” Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) highlighted the necessity of allowing students to return to in-person instruction.
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“If the United States Congress cannot get the technology right with all the resources we have here at the Capitol, how can we expect our students to participate in virtual learning,” Congressman Keller said in his opening remarks. “I believe that virtual learning has had a part to play while we reopen, but in parts of north central and northeast Pennsylvania and in certain rural areas around the country, virtual learning is not as reliable.”
Congressman Keller also noted the challenges virtual learning presents to students with disabilities.
“The CDC has warned that the absence of in-person education options may disadvantage certain students with disabilities,” Keller said. “The continually changing nature of COVID-19 guidelines makes it that much more challenging for school districts, schools, administrators, teachers, parents and students. The evidence is clear – students should be allowed back in classrooms and be permitted to attend school in a safe manner.”
Jennifer Dale, a parent from Lake Oswego, Oregon, testified during the hearing about how pandemic policies and prolonged school closures have impacted her three kids, especially her daughter Lizzie, who has Down syndrome. Ms. Dale explained that Lizzie’s cognitive delays made online learning impossible.
“She is still learning site words, learning to type on a keyboard, and learning to use a mouse,” Ms. Dale said. “The online platform didn’t work to teach her to grip a pencil or correct her answers on a math worksheet.”
Congressman Keller asked Ms. Dale how her experience might have been different if there had been more flexibility for in-person learning.
“The instructional hours she’s receiving in public school are far less than are being received by my two other kids in private school. We’re really fortunate to have the resources to put our other children in private school, but what we’d really like to be able to do is have those choices for all three of our kids,” Dale said. “Lizzie [has had] a full year of no occupational therapy, no speech therapy, no physical therapy. All of it is delivered via telehealth, and, as I think other witnesses have said, telehealth doesn’t work for some kids with cognitive disabilities.”
(Click to watch)
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