The Biden administration’s new stance on reopening schools is sparking backlash from parents, doctors and a former education secretary. On Wednesday, when asked about the reopening of schools, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said it is “premature” to state whether or not students will be back in classrooms this fall.
Cardona was asked about Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey announcing that there will be no remote learning in the Garden State this fall. New Jersey is not the only state to declare that students will be back in the classrooms this fall. Indiana’s Republican governor, Eric Holcomb, also stated that schools will be open full-time in person this fall.
The secretary’s comments come after his announcement on how the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package will be spent throughout the K-12 schools in the country. Even with this new relief package, the Biden administration has not set a date for a return to classrooms for all students. This has left many people in the country concerned for the students.
One of those with concerns is former Education Secretary Bill Bennett, who served in the Reagan administration. Talking about the students, he stated, “[If I were still] the education secretary, they would be in school. They belong in school, and the science says they should be in school.”
Bennett told Fox News that the job of the education secretary is to set policy that will lead and encourage people at the local level to educate the children. He continued, “The secretary should be doing everything he can to encourage people to get back to opening the schools.”
Janette Nesheiwat, a board-certified family and medicine doctor, in an interview with Fox News explained, “Overall there is zero excuse and zero reason at this point to not have schools open.”
As for the long-term impacts school closures will have on a child, the doctor said, “A child’s brain is still developing and is still growing and that growth and development of the brain happens with interactions with others.”
Education Department spokeswoman Kelly Leon told Fox News on Thursday: “Make no mistake, Secretary Cardona’s top priority is getting students nationwide back in the classroom for in-person instruction safely and as quickly as possible. In fact, waiting until the fall is too late. Just this week, he visited schools in Boston and Laurel, Delaware, that have successfully reopened and stayed open. In both visits, he met with teachers and district leaders who highlighted how their reopening efforts are keeping staff and students safe, delivering quality in-person instruction, and advancing educational equity by supporting students who were falling behind even before the pandemic. As states and districts use American Rescue Plan funds to reopen their doors, all of us at the department will remain committed to helping them build successful programs that will reach students most in need this spring, summer, and into the fall.”
President Biden addressed the situation last week, telling educators, “Unless we act quickly, this pandemic could have a devastating long-term impact on our kids.”
However, Cardona’s comments about schools reopening on MSNBC – “It’s premature to tell. One thing that I know as a former commissioner of education, COVID-19 numbers will dictate how we move to re-open schools” – came after his boss addressed the concern of long-lasting impacts.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky addressed the COVID-19 numbers in schools saying, “We can keep our children safe and that in-school transmission is not happening.” The CDC has released new data that updates the social distancing guidelines from 6 feet to 3 feet, provided masks are worn. This gives the opportunity for schools to fit more children safely in a classroom.
Jennifer Haynes, 42, is a single mom of twin boys who had to close her California catering business during the pandemic, leaving her out of work. Both of her boys have been doing virtual learning since last March.
“My one son needs to be in the company of his peers and teachers,” Haynes said. “He has struggled the most. He never had issues with school until this happened.”
Understanding the seriousness of the situation, Haynes explained to Fox that she remains hopeful for a return to normal soon to help her boys.
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