Anya Kamenetz and Elissa Nadworny, NPR |
President Biden has called reopening schools a “national emergency” and said he wants to see most K-12 schools in the United States open during his first 100 days in office, which would be between now and April. On Thursday, he announced he would sign several executive actions, including measures meant to push the process along.
A few highlights:
- More personal protective equipment – Schools will be eligible for full reimbursement for supplies such as masks, gowns and gloves through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund.
- More testing – A Pandemic Testing Board will use the Defense Production Act and other means to produce and distribute more tests, including for schools.
- Vaccines for teachers – Expand vaccine capacity in several ways; equitable distribution to teachers in particular is mentioned.
- Better data – The Education and Health and Human Services departments is asked to take a more aggressive role in collecting, aggregating, analyzing and reporting data and best practices to help schools and businesses reopen safely. That includes collecting data on the equity impacts of prolonged school closures.
In addition, he affirmed the rights of children to access school restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, an issue that made news when DeVos rescinded similar Obama-era guidance.