President Joe Biden, on Wednesday, sent this message to the top educators and leaders of the country:
You have the vaccines, you have guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about how to reopen safely, and now you have the money. Get moving and reopen schools for in-person learning.
In his short message, Biden said, “Help is here. Help is here for schools to purchase PPE, hire additional personnel, like nurses, counselors, custodial staff, improve ventilation, sanitation, avoid educator layoffs and give students extra support. Help is here to help students make up for lost time and lost learning. Unless we act quickly, this pandemic could have a devastating long-term impact on our kids who have gone through this, including on their mental health.”
The message was passed on through a pre-recorded video that played during the Education Department’s National Safe School Reopening Summit. This is the first major attempt by the new government to help education leaders navigate through the pandemic and guide them on the decision of reopening schools.
“Now we have a partner in our administration,” Biden said. “Getting our kids safely back in school is essential and that’s why I set a goal of opening the majority of our K through eight schools by the first 100 days in office. That’s why I directed all states and territories to make educators and other school staff eligible to receive vaccinations, including bus drivers. That’s why the CDC released a roadmap for safely reopening schools. That’s why the Department of Education is working closely with states and districts to help put all of that guidance into action.”
The decision comes after last week’s announcement by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona of the release of $122 billion to states for K-12 education, with an additional $7.6 billion for students with disabilities and $10 billion for testing and tracing in schools.
“We’re depending on you,” Biden said, speaking to the educators, school leaders and public health officials who participated in the summit. “Everything our nation will be tomorrow depends on how we deliver for our young people today. We can do this.”
“They need the opportunity, they need the eye-to-eye contact, they need to be with you in classrooms,” he said about children returning to in-person school. “It’s critically important. I think we can do this. We have to. We have no choice.”