Republican Congresswoman Ashley Hinson of Marion says some of the federal pandemic relief money already approved for American schools should be withheld from districts where students are not back in the classroom.

“Kids need to be in school,” Hinson says. “We can get them back behind a desk instead of in front of a screen and we can do so safely.”

The pandemic relief package congress approved in December included $54 billion for states to distribute as grants to schools. Hinson says initial payments should be reduced to school districts that are not offering in-person instruction and the full grant amount only released when a district has at least half its classes in-person.

“The Washington Post found that roughly one-third of all K-12 school districts in the United States right now are only offering virtual learning, so this means a third of our classrooms are still closed. A third of our school playgrounds are still roped off and the cost of this goes well beyond academics,” Hinson says. “Child depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges are surging. The science shows kids need to be back in school.”

Hinson, who represents Iowa’s first congressional district, made her comments during her first speech on the House floor.