President Joe Biden has been accused of retreating his pledge to reopen the country’s school after the White House added fine print to his promise and revealed that a full reopening was not yet visible. ..
Biden’s first promise in December was to reopen “most of our school” in the first 100 days after taking office. In January, he specified that the goal applies only to schools that teach up to 8th grade. And this week, the White House said it would be considered open as long as the school teaches directly at least one day a week.
White House spokesman Jen Psaki defended the goal on Wednesday, calling it part of a “bold and ambitious agenda.” But she also said it was the bar the administration wanted to cross.
“Sure, if we reach that goal, we have no plans to celebrate in 100 days,” she said. “We certainly want to build from it.”
The White House faced increasing pressure to explain its goals as the reopening debate became more urgent. Biden did not elaborate on what it means to resume or how to define success. Pushed by Tuesday’s question, Pusaki revealed that one day a week, face-to-face learning would reach his goals.
“His goal he set is to open the majority of schools (that is, more than 50%) by the 100th day of his presidency,” she said. “And that means classroom education, so at least one day a week. Hopefully that’s not all.”
Goal elicited criticism from Republicans who said Biden had set the standard too low. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy called it unacceptable and said the school was ready to open now. Former teacher Vicky Hertzler, a Republican, said the goal was less than what the students needed.
“It’s not a’success’that only 51% of our schools reopen only one day a week,” she said. “We need to work to safely return all children to full-time face-to-face learning.”
With the new warning, the pledge does not appear to be much more ambitious than what Biden signaled when he first did it. In December, his promise was to reopen half of the more than 130,000 schools nationwide. When narrowed down to only K-8 schools, the range was reduced to include about 90,000 schools below high school.
Now, critics say the goal has been moved so low that it may have already been achieved. Data from Burbio, a service that tracks school opening plans, recently reported that 58% of students from kindergarten to high school are learning to some extent directly.
“The government does not have to make a lot of effort to reach this goal,” said Jonathan Butcher, an education fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
Due to the lack of federal data on the topic, it was difficult to track the progress of the goal. Last week, the Biden administration announced that it would begin collecting data from 7,000 schools showing whether it operates online, face-to-face, or in combination. The Trump administration refused to collect the data, saying it was not the responsibility of the federal government.
Some companies and researchers, including Burbio, are trying to collect their own data. Burbio reports on recent advances in schools returning to face-to-face classes. According to the company, about 42% of students were studying completely online at the end of last month, down from 55% in the first week of the year.
Biden’s pledge is part of his broader plan to fight COVID-19 and revitalize the economy. His $ 1.9 trillion plan includes $ 130 billion to help schools repair ventilation systems, stock up on protective equipment, and take other steps to open schools. Returning students to the classroom is considered an important step in bringing parents back to work.
However, the resumption efforts are facing obstacles due to delayed vaccine deployment and conflicts with teachers. Schools in some areas teach face-to-face, but many remain almost or completely online. In cities such as Chicago and San Francisco, districts face resistance from teachers who refuse to return until their demands are met.
Before Biden’s goal was revealed this week, even some of his best health authorities expressed suspicion that it would be achieved. Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke with teachers last month, saying that Biden’s school reopening goals, including a new species of COVID-19, “may not happen because there may be mitigation situations.”
This delay has frustrated many parents, including children whose children have been learning from home for nearly a year. The debate over reopening is heating up as Republicans oppose further school bailouts and state evidence that schools are safe to reopen now.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month released a study showing that it is safe to go to school directly if you wear a mask and take other precautions. Dr. Rochelle Warrensky, director of the CDC, later added that immunization of teachers was “not a prerequisite for a safe reopening of school.”
The Republican Party saw the statement as further support for the resumption, but said the White House refused to take a firm stand on the issue and Valensky commented “in her personal position.” Mr Pusaki said the White House will wait for the latest school guidance Biden has requested from the CDC.
CDC guidance that recommends safeguards and is likely to indicate when it is safe to operate directly will be announced shortly.
Is one day a week enough?Biden’s school goal pulls blowback
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