Congressman Dusty Johnson’s Weekly Column: Back to School

Back to School
By Rep. Dusty Johnson
August 20, 2021

Summer is coming to an end and students across South Dakota are heading back to school. I was home to see my three boys off to start the 2021-2022 school year this week.

While many schools in our state remained open during this past year, the same cannot be said about school districts across the country.

According to UNESCO, American schools were closed either fully or partially for 58 weeks. In comparison, Canadian schools were closed 51 weeks and schools in the United Kingdom 27 weeks.

How has over a year of school closures impacted students? Study after study is showing significant learning loss for students participating in distance learning. Additionally, truancy rates are up and attainment rates in core subjects like math and reading are down.

The impacts that loss of instruction time, student to teacher interaction, and peer collaboration will have on our kids cannot be minimized. While the effects of school closures on the mental, emotional, and social well-being of our children cannot be fully realized, even the CDC has published a survey suggesting that virtual instruction presents more risks to a student’s mental and emotional health than in-person learning.

These datapoints are not to downplay the effort and creativity of teachers and administrators alike in trying to make remote learning as engaging and effective as possible. But when we are dealing with something as transformative and significant as educating the next generation, we must stop and think about the impact a decision to keep schools closed will have on our youth in the short and long term.

Back in March 2021, a year after COVID-19 began, only half of American schoolchildren were in person partially or full. I am grateful for the school administrators and teachers who went above and beyond to ensure South Dakota schools were safely open to students last school year.

To date, Congress has authorized an unprecedented $190.5 billion to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to state and local educational agencies to ensure that schools can reopen safely. Teacher health and student welfare do not have to be at odds.

I firmly believe that a good education opens doors and sets a child up for success. The data is clear that it is best for students to be in the classroom learning.

The Biden Administration has assured me it’s their top priority to keep schools open as our nation continues to deal with COVID-19 – it’s imperative they follow through on that promise. It’s time to reopen and keep open our schools.

2 thoughts on “Congressman Dusty Johnson’s Weekly Column: Back to School”

  1. Does education significantly matter to kids future earning capacity, social development, and fullness of life?

    If so, let’s be honest and hold kids back or schedule summer school day for day they were out of class.

    Like one teacher said to me, “I was an awesome distance teacher. Unfortunately, most of my students weren’t awesome distance learners because school is more than information and tests.”

    Convince me I am wrong.

  2. The time spent with your children is the best investment imaginable.

    If you can’t take them to DC with you and home-school, why is that?

    Is DC not safe?

    Why not?

    We can’t continue with business as usual in my opinion.

    Fathers need to be present to identify and thwart the social engineering attacks vectoring through the woman-folk.



    I said it.

    We are the protectors.

    It’s our job.

    Dusty – there is no such thing as hate speech. It is a tool of social engineer psychopaths who constantly move the goal posts the more you try to comply.

    Hate for Western civilization is real, and it’s under attack from a very sophisticated psychological weapon:

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