On his first day in office, President Biden provided an overview on how his administration plans to resume face-to-face learning safely once schools reopen. He added that despite the unresolved health crisis, the government’s goal is to reopen most K-8 schools during his first 100 hundred days; but with the assurance of safe learning environments for both teachers and students.
Through an executive order, the president instructed the country’s Departments of Health and Humans Services and Education, to collaborate in creating a set of school reopening guidelines. Both departments will join seminars with other countries so they can learn from past mistakes when developing guidelines that will be provided as school safety rules and practices to be followed.
Although many education leaders had already suggested the matter under the Trump administration, then incumbent Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stated that it was not their responsibility to do so.
Funding for Pres. Biden’s School Reopening Plans
The President’s plan highlights the need to infuse significant government investment for rapid testing and vaccines as part of the guidelines for reopening schools. That is why Pres. Biden is counting on Congress to provide funding of at least $130 billion in achieving such goal.
Another $350 billion is also needed by school districts to eliminate budget gaps that could force them to temporarily discharge workers. The fund will also help bring back the teachers and school staff who had been laid off due to the pandemic.
Teachers Union Happy with What the New President is Doing
Educators in all fronts all over the country enthusiastically welcomed Biden’s plans. Although the teacher unions were one of the largest groups against reopening of schools, they did so because they demanded safety standards as conditions to reopening. Teachers and school leaders have been asking the federal government for additional guidance and support since summer, but to now avail as the previous administration simply ignored their requests.
According to the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, they are glad that the new president is showing dedication to work on what most educators have been asking for since the first week of the pandemic. While Trump ordered schools to reopen amidst the ongoing pandemic, parents, students, and educators wanted the government to put in place a sound federal school reopening plan based on scientific information.