Several House Republicans were donning new face masks at the Capitol this week to send a message that it’s time to get kids physically back in the classroom.
Rep. Steve Scalise‘s office made the new masks and distributed them to members at the GOP conference meeting Tuesday. The black masks read: “OPEN SCHOOLS NOW! Follow the science, not the unions!”
Scalise, R-La., and fellow Republicans have pointed to scientific studies that suggest opening schools is safe with certain coronavirus precautions and have blamed teachers unions for keeping certain districts closed for full in-person learning.
Republicans, led by freshman Rep. Ashely Hinson, R-Iowa, have also pressured Democrats to pass restrictions on the new coronavirus money to schools to condition full funding on being physically open. Those GOP efforts have failed so far.
“Democrats claim they ‘follow the science,’ but they’re quick to ignore it when it’s no longer politically convenient for them,” Scalise spokeswoman Lauren Fine told Fox News. “Despite the fact the science is clear that schools can and should be reopened, Democrats have decided to sell our kids out to the teachers unions.”
She said Republicans want to send a message with their mandated masks.
“If House Democrats want to continue to insist for no scientific reason other than showmanship on members wearing masks while speaking into the House floor microphones several feet away from other people, Republicans are happy to use the opportunity to remind them and the American people of our message to open schools now, follow the science, not the unions,” Fine said.
Some teachers unions have argued that schools will not be prepared to reopen fully until all school staff members are vaccinated. Others have gone even further, saying it still would not be safe to reopen then, claiming that schools need more funding for better ventilation systems before students and staff can safely return.
President Biden has said his goal is to reopen the majority of K-8 schools by his first 100 days, which is at the end of March.
Fox News’ Peter Aiken contributed to this report.