WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As kids get ready to head back to school, the Biden administration is promising to make this school year as close to normal as possible for students who’ve spent the last almost two years dodging COVID-19.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said things are looking up, and schools across the nation now have the resources they need to address COVID-19 and help students.
“Such promise, such opportunity this year, we’re in a much better spot this year than we were in last year,” he said. “They missed out on a lot the last couple of years, this year they have to be given more.”
He said that thanks to the American Rescue Plan, school districts can ramp up mental health and tutoring services to help kids who may have fallen behind.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also loosened its guidelines, allowing students without symptoms to stay in their classrooms even after a classmate tests positive.
“We’re all excited and we’re all feeling that we can control COVID-19 spread, we have better tools,” Cardona said.
Education unions like the American Federation of Teachers are embracing the more hands-off approach. Union President Randi Weingarten said she’s grateful the Biden administration is helping schools adapt to new challenges.
“The guidelines are smart. … We really want to teach with us seeing each other’s faces,” Weingarten said. “So that kids can get their mojo back and their confidence back.”
But Weingarten said it’s up to parents and local school districts to support teachers.
“Teachers have to have the respect that they need to do their jobs, as opposed to … the politics and the division and the polarization,” she said.