WASHINGTON – Today, House Oversight and Reform Committee Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.), House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), and Republican members of the Oversight Committee sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos probing the lawfulness of local orders prohibiting private and parochial schools from safely reopening and providing in-person instruction to students.
Recently, officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, issued a one-size-fits-all order preventing private and parochial schools from providing in-person instruction despite the schools’ exhaustive preparations to safely reopen by following public health guidance. While the order has since been rescinded, the Oversight Committee Republican members express concern that other jurisdictions around the nation may also fail to consider the careful planning of private and parochial schools, even when those schools comply with public health requirements, and call for closure decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis. The members also warn that ongoing school closures harm students’ overall well-being and academic achievement, particularly impacting low-income, minority children, and those living with disabilities the most.
In their letter, the members request a briefing from the Department of Education to update the Committee on its efforts to ensure that children can safely attend schools in-person when they reopen. They also request any legal analysis of blanket orders closing all schools despite the schools’ adherence to public health protocols and what measures can be taken when local jurisdictions issue sweeping orders.
Joining Ranking Members Comer and Foxx in signing the letter are Representatives Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (R-Ariz.), Jody B. Hice (R-Ga.), Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Clay Higgins (R-La.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Carol D. Miller (R-W.Va,), Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), W. Gregory Steube (R-Fla.), and Fred Keller (R-Pa.).