Congressional candidate discusses school reopening plans
Tracy Mitrano, the Democratic candidate running for the 23rd Congressional district, believes politics need to be taken out of the decision to reopen schools.
During a phone conference on Thursday, Mitrano spoke about the debate on whether schools should reopen for physical classes in the fall or continue with online education. “We have to get politics out of this school reopening issue, just as we need to get politics out of how this country is going to address this pandemic,” Mitrano said. “We need to be doing evidence-based research. I think we have seen that the more politics play, the worse the epidemic becomes.”
Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo requested that school districts in New York state submit plans for their reopening by July 31. He also said that in the first week of August, the state should have more insight on whether to open schools at all.
“Schools are important, not just for education, socialization of young people, we don’t even know what this means to have kids who are out of school for this period of time,” Cuomo said. “So, yes, we all want to open schools. But we want it to be safe. And the test that I bring to all of these things, day camps, overnight camps, is the my child test. I am not going to ask anyone to put their child in a situation that I would not put my child in, and that’s how I make these decisions. If it’s not safe for my child, it’s not safe for your child. So, we’ll get the data and we’ll make that decision in August. But just to be clear, the federal government has no legal authority when it comes to school openings.”
Mitrano holds similar sentiments as Cuomo, explaining on the call that the main focus has to be public health regarding opening schools. She also called out President Donald Trump and U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, for their actions regarding the pandemic.
“Tom Reed is right in the thick of it. He has been irresponsible in his leadership, he is Donald Trump’s lackey,” Mitrano said. “This was demonstrated by how he paired to Trump in the beginning of this pandemic … then rejecting assistance to New York City and criticizing Cuomo at the very moment where we are in a dire crisis that we should be pulling together to help.”
She believes that school opening must be controlled by local governments, not the state as a whole.
Reed called on Cuomo earlier this week, requesting the state to give parents and school leaders more guidance on reopening this fall. Reed was joined by Republican Sen.Tom O’Meara of Big Flats, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano of Corning, Assemblyman Chris Friend of Big Flats, Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes of Caledonia and Joe Giglio of Gowanda calling on guidelines to be released soon so that school districts can begin preparing to have students back in classrooms in September.
“Our communities’ leaders have demonstrated they can be trusted with a careful and thorough reopening of schools that is focused on safety, first and foremost,” the Republican lawmakers said. “No one cares more about the health and well-being of our students, families and school communities. What has been accomplished by administrators, teachers and parents to help students throughout this public health crisis has been remarkable. These efforts must continue to supplement ongoing instruction because in-person schooling is fundamentally important to the long-term health and well-being of our young people and their families. Nothing can replace our children being in school. It’s central to quality education, our ongoing economic recovery and the strength of our social fabric. Governor Cuomo needs to release the guidelines so that school administrators can get to work implementing a safe reopening for September. The governor can’t leave school districts, students, teachers and parents waiting until the final minute for guidance.”
Mitrano said most of the money from federal funding to public schools goes to children with disabilities and Trump is threatening schools that federal money may be held back if they do not reopen.
“For the president to be threatening our most vulnerable children and our congressman standing up there … parroting and supporting his words instead of respecting the underlying values of local school districts suggests that people take a very very hard look when they vote again in November.”