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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Indiana lawmaker proposes bill to strip funding from schools if they don't reopen in-person this fall

Rep. Jim Banks has proposed a bill that would cutoff a school's federal funding if the school fails to open in-person learning come fall.
Desks in a classroom. (Getty Images/smolaw11)

INDIANAPOLIS — (WTHR) — Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) is proposing a bill that would cutoff a school’s federal funding if they refuse to reopen for in-person learning in the fall.

The legislation is called: Reopen Our Schools Act.

“We need to change the subject from ‘our schools might not reopen in the fall’ to ‘our schools will reopen in the fall and here’s what we need to do it,’” Rep. Banks said. “America is the land of opportunity where education is guaranteed to all children. We’re not living up that guarantee at the moment.”

The concern is that remote learning is not effective and lack of internet keeps low-income or rural families from being able to do classwork.

RELATED: New state guidelines issued for schools operating during pandemic

“Reopening our schools is the lynchpin to reopening our economy. Many parents rely on their kids going to school so they can go to work. To get our society up and running again, we need our children back in school,” Rep. Banks said. Additional information on the bill:

  • The bill prohibits schools (elementary to university) from receiving FY20 funds unless they reopen by September 8th
  • Schools must provide a plan to reopen *safely* per their normal operations pre-coronavirus
  • The Secretary of Education can create a waiver process at her discretion 
  • Only in-person classes count as re-opening
  • Maximum liability protection for schools