As a father of a 5-year-old, I know the difficulties remote learning has placed on children, parents and teachers over the last year. Remote learning’s pitfalls continue to manifest themselves in students’ ability to focus, meet academic growth goals and maintain sound mental health.

As the pandemic wreaked havoc across our communities, too many students began falling behind in their grade level, suffering from declining motivation, and far too many developed psychological and physical illnesses due to remote learning. As more schools in Arizona continue reopening, I am calling on my colleagues in Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration to work to ensure schools across the nation return to safe, in-person learning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s study on student mental health, from 2019 to 2020, 5- to 11-year-olds saw a 24 percent increase in mental health related emergencies, and a 31 percent increase for 12- to 17-year-olds during the peak of the pandemic. With in-person schooling and support groups ultimately cancelled, it is said 26 percent of 25-year-olds and below were unable to access mental health support. Our children need and deserve better.

Keeping our schools closed is hurting our children, teachers and families. The damage being done with each lost day of school is irreversible, and we must come together to address this urgent threat to future generations. It is time for school board members and teachers’ unions across the country to stand up for our children and move immediately to reopen our schools. I will continue to fight for in-person learning to resume throughout our state and hope more states will soon begin to follow in Arizona’s footsteps.