Republicans put teachers again at center stage with tweet

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – If teachers made a difference in last year’s election results in Kentucky, they’ve been thrown back into the fray again.

The Kentucky Republican Party put them center stage in a tweet Tuesday that blames them for the slow in-person reopening of schools in Kentucky.

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It follows some Republican state lawmakers who have turned virtual learning in schools and the coronavirus pandemic in general into a political issue.

The controversy began under former Gov. Matt Bevin, who took on the teacher union, angering many members. Some analysts said that was one of the reasons he narrowly lost his re-election bid to Democrat Andy Beshear last November.

While not ordering schools to stay closed and often encouraging local school districts to make the decision that is best for them, Beshear has recommended schools not begin in-person learning until Sept. 28.

Monday, he said he still felt comfortable with that date, noting the state’s coronavirus positivity rate is declining and school districts are learning from mistakes made by schools in other states.

The state also has begun offering assistant to districts with planning for in-person reopening.

Last week, Green County, the first public school district to open for in-person learning closed after a surge in coronavirus cases in the county, although not in the district.

Lexington Catholic schools also converted to virtual instruction after an outbreak. But some other smaller private schools, like Danville Christian and Lexington Christian, have remained open with extensive safeguards in place.

In a statement, Kentucky Democratic Party spokesperson Marisa McNee criticized Republicans for their failure to support public education.

“This latest attack shows that Matt Bevin wasn’t an outlier, but rather a reflection of how Kentucky Republicans feel about our teachers and educators. While teachers are adapting their lessons on the fly, working to keep students fed and families safe, Kentucky Republicans are attacking them. It’s never been more clear — Kentucky Republicans do not support our teachers,” McNee said.