WASHINGTON — In his first full day in office, President Joe Biden is pledging to sign an Executive Order that provides the supports needed to reopen most K-8 schools within 100 days, an ambitious goal as COVID-19 cases surge.
The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Becky Pringle:
“From day one of his administration, President Joe Biden is demonstrating he is listening to educators and proving that he understands the complexities of providing students with safe and equitable learning environments during the COVID-19 pandemic. No one wants to return to in-person learning more than the educators who have dedicated their lives to helping their students succeed, but reopening school buildings must be done safely and equitably. Educators are encouraged not only by President Biden’s leadership, but also by knowing that there is finally a true partner in the White House who will prioritize students by working with educators in the decision-making process.
“This Executive Order is an important first step to ensure the protections and significant resources are in place to support the safe and just return to in-person instruction in school buildings and on campuses. President Biden also recognizes the needs of students in distance or hybrid learning settings and provides critical tools and resources — especially for our most vulnerable populations as these crises have disproportionately impacted Black, Brown and Indigenous communities — to deliver a just and high-quality public education.
“President Biden’s plan provides great reason for sorely-needed optimism, but we cannot forget that, right now, the reality in far too many schools and institutions of higher education is that effective distancing, mask-wearing, ventilation, COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and other crucial mitigation strategies are not in place.
“President Biden has shown a strong commitment to undoing the damage caused by the previous administration — from freezing student loan payments to restoring civil rights for LGBTQ students, educators and their families. He also has taken steps to reverse the racist policies championed by the prior administration, like ending the 1776 commission, and is committed to setting up systems to combat racist programs and schemes. There is much work that needs to be done, and the path will not be easy, but there is now a new dawn in America.”
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, students preparing to become teachers, healthcare workers, and public employees. Learn more at www.nea.org.