Senator Rarick: Senate passes legislation removing the Governor’s authority to close schools via executive order

On Thursday, we passed legislation that will protect students’ right to an excellent education at all times. The bill, Senate File 2, removes any governor’s authority to close schools or alter school schedules via executive order. Decisions about opening and closing will be left in the hands of individual school districts moving forward, where local officials have firsthand knowledge of their students’ needs.

The science and data show that we can safely get our kids back to in-person learning. Local communities know what is best for their children. I am going to keep fighting for local school boards and parental control so that our students can return to the classroom as soon as possible and not miss out on any more of their education.

The bill says the Governor may not use executive order authority to issue any order or to authorize the commissioner of education to alter school schedules, curtail school activities, or order schools closed.

Gov. Walz’s executive orders closing schools have been among his most questioned and controversial orders of the outbreak.

There is mounting evidence, including research from the CDC, that schools pose a minimal risk of spreading the coronavirus. A fall Reuters report that studied 191 countries also found no clear link between school reopenings and coronavirus surges. In addition, Axios looked at several studies and found schools are not Covid hotspots, and the Atlantic Magazine wrote that kids are not superspreaders and that it’s time to reopen schools. The New York Times reported on evidence that schools, especially elementary schools, are not “stoking community transmission.”

On Wednesday, Governor Walz revised his Safe Learning Plan but still holds state authority to change education plans going forward.

The Governor’s revision does nothing to solve the local control issue. It’s becoming a far more frequent problem than I ever could have imagined, where our state’s bureaucracy thinks it should be the sole decider.  I hope the Governor doesn’t continue to slow roll our kids’ education futures and accepts our legislation so that our students can get back to learning when their school boards deem they are ready.