The promise was hopeful and quite clear: With strong health measures for the public, newly elected President Joe Biden had declared this in early December. Most of the schools can start opening at the end of his first 100 days.
President’s Struggles On Reopening The Schools
But the reality is far more complicated than thought.
First comes the clarification on President Biden’s first full day at the office, when the administration has released a full 200 pages Covid-19 response plan. It explained the schools’ reopening plan, which included only the K-8 schools and the not high schools in the first 100 days.
After this came a walk back from the White House from Jen Psaki, the press secretary, who said that this administration’s intention is only to have the majority of the schools back in their classrooms at least once a day a week.
After Biden’s walk back, he described that one day a week was standard as a mistake in communication. He has said that they are expecting quite a “close” to the opening majority of the K-8 schools for 5 days a week by the third April after the end of his 100 first days in the office.
The changing messages on the reopenings of the school illustrate that the administration’s struggle is ongoing to meet this central promise by Biden. He also wants to get most of the nation’s children as early as possible back to classrooms.
Unlike most of their directives and other vows, pledging over 100 million Covid-19 vaccine shots in the first 100 days or making it mandatory. All Americans must wear masks on federal property, and reopening the schools is a demanding task on which the federal government has little authority. District leaders and local leaders, including various state officials, need to control when and when schools will reopen, under the guidance of the President and his team, on the margins.
The executive director of AASA, Dan Domenech, the School Superintendents Association, had said that the Biden team had not consulted his group in any way before setting this reopening of schools. Domenech has further said that, if he had been asked, on his recommendation, he would have said that putting yourself on the out in terms of the promises which you may not be able to keep.
Many people haven’t understood when it comes to the school district, the state government and even the federal government have very little power on it. Dan said, further adding to his concern that President Biden is raising those expectations which cannot be met.
And further, a deadline also looms when the next year of school starts in August, the parents might prove to be less than forgiving if the children are again forced into another consecutive year under this disrupted learning process.
Suppose this doesn’t look quite familiar from the next schooling year. In that case, that’s going to be quite a bigger problem, as said by David Griffith at the works for Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development as the senior director of advocacy for government relations.
Griffin has said that although the President and his team might not be able to control the time when these schools open, he could create the conditions for the same. If these conditions are not there, then it will depend on the schools themselves.
The previous week, the administration of Biden had logged meaningful progress. Miguel Cardona, the Education Secretary, has laid out the five-point plan and also promised to get more experts on this topic.