As the U.S. COVID-19 number of infection cases and deaths continue to rise uncontrollably, schools holding in-person classes are now shifting to remote learning. While President-elect Joe Biden is already on the cusp of transitioning to his role as new president come Jan. 20, 2021, school administrations, teachers, parents and students are looking forward to having a clear path in which schools can reopen safely even while still amidst the ongoing pandemic.
As it is, the country has not made genuine progress that will allow schools to operate safely. Safe reopening in schools denotes that educational institutions will at least have regular and rapid testing in place; as well as have established quick methods of contract tracing.
School Reopening Initiatives Under the Trump Administration
Under the Trump administration, resuming in-person classes was largely problematic because the soon-to-be terminated Secretary of the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, simply echoed out the orders of her outgoing boss. Trump wanted schools to reopen because other countries have done so.
However, the Trump administration forced schools to reopen without presenting clear and specific guidelines other than those released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which the White House made sure did not contradict the views held by the seated U.S. president.
Devos’ Department of Education practically absolved itself from the responsibility of coming up with workable solutions or even of tracking how the COVID-19 virus affected schools that reopened by way of in-person classes. As a result, many schools in America today have closed down and shifted to remote learning as a significant number of teachers have either become infected, or in quarantine as virus transmissions continue within most communities.
A Quick Look at What Incoming President Biden Announced as Plans for School Reopening
According to the new president’s coronavirus task force, the Biden administration will give priority to school reopening over other nonessential establishments like bars, restaurants and gyms. One of the members of the task force, Dr. Celine Gounder said that they look to providing education as an essential service.
President-elect Biden is aware of the problems schools are facing since he stated during the presidential debate that schools need funds to open safely. Now that he won the presidential election, his coronavirus task force shares that President Biden’s plans include not only providing schools with money needed through local and state governments
The soon-to-be-POTUS promises to find ways to send as much as $88 billion for schools to use in making school classrooms and facilities functioning safely, including expenses that will be incurred in compliance with the protocols prescribed by the national guidelines that the Biden administration will set forth.
Moreover, the group also said that the Biden administration will address the systemic racial and socioeconomic inequality in the U.S. education system, which Trump had exacerbated. As President-elect Joe Biden’s wife Jill is a community college professor in Virginia, the first couple vows to work toward substantially increasing public school resources.
At this point, we wish to remind the coronavirus task force not to overlook the plight of the seniors who have gone back to college after going into retirement. The pandemic had placed them in a situation which they avoided by going back to college— that of having too much time doing nothing.
There’s a huge population of seniors out there who are also raring to go back to their respective community college. As seniors are the most vulnerable group of students, higher education officials should make sure there are distance learning courses available for the elderly. In colleges and universities that will accept senior citizens for in-person classes, steps must be taken to ensure that this group of adults will be provided with something as simple as senior-friendly comfort rooms, in which basic health care provisions, like a tested non slip shower mat for elderly students is in place.