Senator Mitt Romney asks deputy education secretary nominee why schools are closed

Romney at confirmation hearing
Posted at 8:26 AM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 11:32:49-04

Sen. Mitt Romney engaged in a debate over reopening schools during a confirmation hearing Wednesday for President Biden’s nominee to be deputy education secretary.

READ: Biden nominating head of Connecticut schools for education secretary

Cindy Marten is Superintendent of San Diego Unified Schools, and was asked why some schools in San Diego remain closed.

Sen. Romney tweeted the exchange, saying "the cost of keeping our kids out of school is so unbelievably high -- academically and socially -- that it's inconceivable schools remain closed."

“Are you seeing a difference in infection rate in places where schools are open as opposed to schools that are not open,” Romney asked, “In the surrounding communities,” Marten asked. When Romney said “correct,” Marten answered “I don’t believe so, no.”

Romney then asked for her to help him understand why so many schools are still closed.

“That’s why we did turn to the local experts, we did put the mitigations in place, we started to re-engage our most vulnerable youth, Senator Murray brought up our homeless youth, foster youth, students with disabilities, students with the greatest challenge being able to come to in person learning,” Marten said.

She added that was the choice she and other education and health experts made for San Diego and that it has led to a clear-path that’s working for the community.

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That statement prompted this follow up from Sen. Romney.

“I certainly hope that at the Department of Education you'll be able to provide guidance that helps the entire nation as opposed to saying to every school district ‘hey why don’t you get your own experts to figure this out’ because we do have experts at the national level who’ve said to us it’s okay to open the schools and yet the schools remained closed.”