A newspaper executive in Texas said reopening schools in the Lone Star State is the top election issue there this year.
Ross Ramsey, the executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, wrote an opinion piece published Friday in which he argued that the situation involving schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic "will be a proxy for the coronavirus, the most tangible evidence yet of the national, state and local government response to the pandemic."
He noted that some school districts in Texas are fully open for in-class learning and are going ahead with plans for the fall sports season. Others, however, are either fully remote or have a remote option for families concerned about the coronavirus.
Where politicians fall on the spectrum of schools reopening this fall, and then how things go once classes start, are major issues for Texas voters, Ramsey wrote.
"Everybody wants it to work. If there is a reasonably safe way to put kids back in classes without risking their health or the health of families and school workers, it would be a huge break after the first discouraging months of the coronavirus," Ramsey argued.
"It would be good for the students. It would free parents who've been unable to return to their workplaces because their kids have been at home. It would mark a big step in the direction of whatever is going to be normal after all of this.
"And it would be a significant victory for politicians who've been responding to the pandemic and the recession — especially the ones on the November ballot."
Ramsey said that whatever happens with the school situation will reflect on politicians for how they stand on the issue.
"They'll be judged, in part, by what happens to those students," he wrote. "And it will happen — good news, bad news or no news at all — as more voters turn their attention to the elections, the candidates and the issues."
He added, "Safely getting Texas students back to school — virtually or actually — could be the best evidence between now and the election that official responses to the pandemic are working."
Several experts have said that reopening schools is the best thing to do for several reasons, including the mental health of children and also for parents who are trying to work.
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