American public school system was restored to full-time in recent days. This implies that more than 50000000 children returned to in-person learning. For a large number among them, this is the first time that they step into a classroom since the onslaught of COVID 19. For the first time after making it happen, the cabinet members responsible for the process had to confront Congress.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra were before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to announce the exciting news.
Congress Questions CMs For Making Children Return To Schools
Mr. Cardona has great pride in announcing that the country is returning to school. This happened even when a dangerously transmissible Delta variant began spreading prior to one month of starting school. Despite the struggles the country had to endure, he has great optimism for the future of education. He, however, did not forget to acknowledge that we have to remain alert.
Working in unison, the two departments oversaw the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars of federal Coronavirus financial assistance for K-12 schools. It was meant for:
- For tracing and testing COVID 19
- For buying PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kits
- For starting vaccination clinics
- For ensuring proper ventilation in buildings
- To start summer schools and begin tutoring programs
- To hire additional staffs
But the concerns lawmakers raised about certain issues marred their success story. The issues pointed out were:
- the absence of proper COVID 19 testing
- mental health of students
- the loss of months incurred in study because of online learning
- shortage of staffs and educators
- inability to ensure access to disabled students to the education they deserve under the federal rule
- attempts to use mask and vaccine mandates to political gains
The Delta strain of COVID 19 shows that it has not yet overcome the pandemic. During the past 28 days, the country witnessed almost 1000000 new COVID 19 cases among kids. Pediatric hospitals all over the country are facing a shortage of beds. And according to CDC, the pandemic forced more than 1800 schools to close down. This adversely affected children’s learning yet again. Parents had to readjust their life to help children study from home.
Lawmakers of both parties expressed serious concerns about the lack of a sufficient number of COVID 19 testing sites.
The Department of Human Health and Services announced an aid of $10000000000 for K-12 schools for ensuring testing facilities. The attempt, however, failed miserably. Demand for the same skyrocketed during summer because of the Delta variant.
At present, the nation has 100 large school districts. And only 10% of them have adopted a testing mechanism. Lawmakers said that they worry about this challenge; with schools that have no testing.
Demand for testing is sure to skyrocket. More and more schools are adopting a test-stay arrangement in schools for those exposed to the virus. They can stay in school if they test negative. Furthermore, businesses are increasingly issuing testing and vaccine mandates for their staff. They also questioned the secretaries for their alleged failures in answering certain questions. They failed to communicate properly with regard to their concerns about testing. They also did not mention how to tap into the remaining federal aid for the same.
Secretary for HHS said that the country has a sufficient number of testing kits. Certain types of tests are in high demand in certain regions. And it is making the distribution a tough challenge.
In response, the lawmakers asked the secretary to outline a policy to ensure a sufficient number of testing is available. They also wanted to know if both the secretaries supported vaccine mandates. They responded in the affirmative. Children need protection.
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