South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem told the “Todd Starnes Show” on Wednesday that the science is clear and children should to be headed back to school despite resistance from teachers unions and Democrat governors.
“The science shows us clearly that kids need to be back in school,” she said.
Noem said it is imperative that children attend in-person lessons because a classroom would be safer than “virtually any other place” they could go, like grocery stores and pharmacies.
She listed several reasons why children need to be back inside the classroom and pointed to how virtual learning is woefully inadequate and said school is vital to a young person’s wellbeing. Schools also offer the state to monitor possible child abuse cases that would otherwise go unreported, she said.
“Those are the kids that probably got their one hot meal a day at the school,” she said.
Noem told local news outlets that she does not believe a mask mandate for students is a practical idea because, in part, it would lead more children to touch their faces throughout the day. She also pointed to studies that put children under 10 at very low risk for infection.
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Noem said she believes one of the key differences in her approach compared to other governors is that besides bringing in health experts to discuss best practices in dealing with the coronavirus, she also consulted constitutional attorneys who provided a blueprint on what guidelines she could put in place that would not infringe on anyone’s rights.
She said it was a deliberate effort made by her office to not overstep these boundaries. She said economic advisers helped her navigate decisions in the state and its ramifications on small businesses. She told Todd Starnes, the radio show’s host, that when she campaigned for office she made certain promises that she wanted to uphold even in the face of a crisis.
While governors in other states demanded the shutdown of “non-essential businesses,” Noem held firm to her belief that the government should not act arbitrarily and determine which businesses can survive and which have to fail.
“We went through my oath of office that I took to the constitution of the state of South Dakota, but also the U.S. Constitution and what that meant,” she said. “I take my oath seriously.”
She said it’s not the role of state government to shut down businesses.
“I didn’t even define in South Dakota an essential and non-essential business,” she told Starnes. “I didn’t see how I could have the authority to do that and what definition I would use would be arbitrary.”