46 Members of Congress Urge the Dept. of Education to Take Steps to Safeguard Children During COVID-19 Crisis

A bipartisan group of Members of Congress May 19 urged Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to issue new guidance setting standards for how school systems can use online learning platforms to protect children from abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"[S]chool closures and shelter-in-place orders, while necessary to fight the spread of this pandemic, are having dangerous unintended consequences on our nation’s children," the group of 46 Members of Congress, led by Rep. Debbie Wassermen Schultz (D-FL) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), wrote. "As a society and as a government, we need to rise to meet this challenge and to enact additional safeguards to identify children in need of help and to give them guidance in seeking that help... I urge you to issue additional guidance that will set clear standards for how school systems can best utilize online learning platforms to keep students safe from harm. In particular, this guidance should encourage state Departments of Education to require the addition of a reporting function (via voice, online chat, email, or other technology, based on the capacity of each state) into their online learning platforms so that children can report abuse to their state child abuse hotlines. Teachers should also be directed to remind children that a student can report abuse to them and that teachers can provide immediate assistance to children who may be experiencing abuse."

Read the full letter here.

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