Jul 14 2020
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined America’s Newsroom to discuss reopening schools in the fall amidst the rising cases of COVID-19 in Florida and China sanctioning Senator Rubio and other U.S. lawmakers. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here.
On reopening schools in the fall amidst the rising cases of COVID-19 in Florida:
“I think it’s pretty clear by now that the people running our schools and our states are not going to open up schools as long as infection rates are at a certain level, so I think that puts the onus on all of us, whether you believe it’s safe or not, to do everything we can to bring the infection rate under control. That said, I hope, as we make these decisions that it undergoes a cost-benefit analysis. Clearly, the benefits of closing schools are weighed against the community spread that we’re seeing, the outbreaks, and I understand — it’s not inconsequential, it’s a real threat.
“The costs are significant though. Imagine if you are a single mother who has to be at work everyday at 8:00 am and your job depends on it. What do you do with your 9 year old? If schools aren’t open, you’re probably dropping them off with the lady in the neighborhood that takes care of every kid in the neighborhood. And that’s risky too, not to mention the children aren’t learning. The learning losses are very, very significant...
“The harm is more than just learning loss by the way. A lot of the child abuse cases are identified first and foremost on the frontline in schools, when you see kids showing up with bruises and other injuries…
“There has to be a non-school option available to people, but I do believe we have to work extra hard to be as flexible as we can to figure out a way to get those who do need to be in school into a brick-and-mortar facility so they can learn.
“This is particularly important for working families. For more affluent families, this is a big hassle but they’re going to figure it out. The ones who are going to be really impacted are working families and low-income families...
“Florida is an enormous state. We have 67 counties… and we have a number of counties that find themselves in the situation that you’re describing. And then we have counties that are not in that place, and I think those counties should move forward with the ability to start school on time.
“I think we need to have a comprehensive understanding of what the best practices are for opening up the schools. We can learn from the experience of other countries that have done it, but also from daycare centers, many of whom have been open the entire time, And we have been able to do so relatively safely.
“I think we have to go into it with the assumption, by the way, that you’re never going to be 100% here. As long as this virus is spread from person to person, we have to mitigate risk, but we cannot eliminate it. So it’s a combination of technology, of scheduling, of spacing, of protective equipment, of best practices, distancing, and other things. And some places where you can teach outdoors, which we know is a safer setting. I don’t think there has been established this best practices criteria for places that do need to open…... The one thing I’d love to see is a matrix of best practices that don’t make the risk zero, but that substantially lower the risk for both the teachers and the students, who can take it back home and infect parents and grandparents.”
On China sanctioning Senator Rubio and other U.S. lawmakers:
“China is a totalitarian regime that oppresses its own people. It’s jailing over a million Uyghur Muslims and trying to strip them of their cultural identity, their religious identity, their names. They call them reeducation camps — in many cases these are actually forced labor camps. It’s an outrage. And I’ll continue to speak out on it.
“I had no intention of traveling to China soon anyway. I didn’t think they were going to roll out the welcome mat. I’m actually proud of it. Honestly, I didn’t look for it, but I’m proud of that ban because it shows we’re on the right side. Anytime a totalitarian, evil regime is against you, you know you’re on the right side.”