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Schools need funds to be ready to open

Commentary

New York’s Health Department has released an extensive list of guidelines that schools will need to follow before reopening for the fall semester, and now schools will be responsible for planning how to reopen online, in-person, or both. Schools across the country are grappling with the same challenges of reopening during a public health emergency. I feel that as we saw mistakes in nursing homes where there was no testing of employees and incoming patients; the same could happen in schools.

I propose that all schools should reopen but test their employees and staff at least every other week until we get vaccines and preventative drugs available to combat COVID-19. These challenges highlight a need for Congress to step-up and provide more financial support for America’s educational system.

Academic institutions need funding to pay for the supplies that they will need to clean their facilities and potentially test staff and students for the virus; however, public education funding has been steadily decreasing since the 2008 recession.

Federal funding only makes up 8% of public education budgets, and state education budgets often fail to meet school’s needs.

Without needed funding, teachers could be left paying out of pocket for cleaning supplies or risk going without them, placing children in danger.

Congress needs to step in immediately and provide emergency funding for K-12 institutions so that they can pay for needed safety measures for their classrooms.

In addition, Congress should work in the future to invest more funding towards education.

The funding issues go far beyond COVID-19, as teachers have often been left providing their own class supplies due to poor funding. As an independent Democratic candidate for Congress in New York’s 23rd Congressional district and a father, I know how important it is for schools to provide quality education. Pandemic or otherwise, however, this cannot be done with limited funding. America’s officials need to fund our schools.

Dr. Scott Noren is running for the Congressional seat from District 23 as a write-in candidate. He is an Ithaca resident.

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