The promise of schools reopening is such a mixed bag for the millions of families continuing to struggle through distance learning amid COVID school closures. The CDC recently released revised safe school reopening recommendations which are based on infection rates within a county. Based on those guidelines, 90 percent of schools should remain closed. In an interview with Savannah Guthrie on Today, Vice President Kamala Harris expressed some frustration over the guidelines.
“What the CDC … has recommended [is] exactly that, recommendations about how to reopen safely if they’ve been closed, how to stay open if they’ve been open,” Harris said. “And so the recommendations include what, again, needs to happen around social distancing, hand-washing, mask-wearing. The point is that we all want our kids to get back to school as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.”
The CDC has stated that teacher vaccinations are not necessary for safe school reopenings, though the thought of returning to school without being vaccinated has many teachers feeling unsafe. “Teachers should be a priority along with other frontline workers, and we’re going to make them a priority,” said the vice president.
Kamala Harris on schools reopening: ‘Teachers should be a priority’ for vaccinations https://t.co/BpzfLhfQ9x
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 17, 2021
While the majority of states have prioritized older Americans and frontline workers in vaccine eligibility, 28 states and the District of Columbia have added teachers and other school staff to their eligibility lists.
Harris also restated the Biden administration’s goal of getting as many younger kids back to school as possible this semester. “So our goal is that, as many K through 8 schools as possible will reopen within the first 100 days [of the administration],” she said. “Our goal is that it will be five days a week. So we have to work to achieve that goal.”
Going from distance learning to five-days-a-week, in-person schooling seems like a dream to many struggling families and Harris’s interview didn’t offer many solid ideas on how to achieve what many parents feel is a first step in returning to a place of normalcy.
Regarding the statistic that 90 percent of schools should remain closed based on the CDC guidelines, Harris said, “The issue here is not just about statistics, it’s about our kids. It’s about their parents. It’s about the fact that every day, our kids are missing essential, critical days in their educational development. Each day in the life of a child is a very long time.”
While Harris’s interview was full of great goals and priorities we all agree with it, she was far too vague about the process of achieving those goals. We applaud the administration’s acknowledgment and acceptance of the problem, but we hope to see some concrete plans to solve the problem sooner rather than later.
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