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The controversy surrounding the reopening of schools in the US under the Biden administration continued to play out this week as reporters asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki tough questions about just what school reopening means.
"If I could just follow up with you about comments you made yesterday on school reopening," Kristen Welker of NBC News asked Psaki, "You said the goal was for more than 50 percent of schools to have some teaching in person at least one day a week, you said you hoped it would be higher. But why is the administration setting the bar at one day a week? Why not go higher?"
"Well, certainly we are not planning to celebrate at 100 days if we reach that goal. That is our own effort to make our own, set our own markings, bold and, set a bold and ambitious agenda for how we measure ourselves and progress.
"But we certainly we hope to build from that, even at a 100 days. And from there, our objective, the president's objectives, is for all schools to reopen, to stay open, to be open five days a week, for kids to be learning, that is what our focus is on. This is simply a goal for 100 days," Psaki said.
"Alot of schools are already doing that, and for working parents, one day a week doesn't help a whole lot," Welker pointed out.
Biden ran on a plan to get schools reopened, and enlisted the help of new Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to make it happen. It is unlikely that, when parents heard that Biden wanted to get all schools open within his first 100 days, they thought that he meant schools would be open one day per week by April 2021.
In many school districts, such as Chicago and Los Angeles, schools have been closed since March 2020, and there are no real plans to get those schools back open, to get kids off of their remote learning screens, or to get teachers back to work.
The nation's largest school district, New York City, which served 1.1 million students at the start of the pandemic and is now down to approximately 960,000, opened schools on a blended model on September 21. Kids are in school, pandemic pending, up to three days per week. However, many weeks see kids in school only one day, as schools shut down if there are two unaffiliated cases of coronavirus found in the school.
The Biden administration does not appear to have a plan that would improve on what is already being done in New York, and has sided against schools and with teachers unions in other locales. The National Education Association was a major donor to the Biden campaign, and issued their own agenda to his incoming administration as to what they felt would be necessary before teachers unions would allow schools to open permit their teachers to go back to work.
Biden's American Rescue Plan, a massive, $1.9 trillion spending bill, includes the $175 billion sum demanded by the NEA. However, there is still no plan to get kids back in class or to put an end to remote learning and the detrimental effects of keeping kids from leading normal lives.