Meeting the President’s Call to Support the Safe and Sustained Reopening of Schools

As a teacher, a principal, and a parent, I always loved those first few days– students seeing each other for the very first time after summer season break, learning more about their teachers, checking out a book or taking part in a club or a sport that triggered a brand-new passion..

For example, the Department might initiate a directed investigation if facts indicate a potential offense of the rights of students as an outcome of state policies and actions. The Department will also react and receive as proper to complaints from the general public, including guardians, others, and parents about students who might experience discrimination as an outcome of states not enabling local school districts to reduce infection transmission risk through masking requirements and other mitigation steps. As always, the Departments Office for Civil Rights examines allegations of discrimination on a case-by-case basis, looking at the specific realities of each case..

Following the letters I sent recently to Florida and Texas, today the Department released interactions to six additional states that have likewise prohibited universal mask requireds — Arizona, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP Act) needs each school district that gets Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to embrace a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. As I wrote in the letters, actions to obstruct school districts from voluntarily embracing science-based methods for preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are lined up with the guidance from the CDC may infringe upon a school districts authority to embrace policies to secure students and teachers as they establish their safe return to in-person instruction strategies required by Federal law..

Supporting School Districts to Protect Students and Educators.

But this year, the delight that teachers and trainees are feeling as they go back to in-person knowing is mixed with unpredictability and a sense of urgency as a result of the pandemic. As educators, we know in our hearts how essential in-person knowing is for trainee success– even before the information emerged on the devastating effect of school structure closures throughout the past 18 months..

Ive seen fantastic examples of states and school districts that are leading the way. Earlier this week, I signed up with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf for an announcement that the state will work to bring school-based vaccination centers to every school district and provide free screening testing for all schools. The Department may start a directed examination if truths indicate a possible infraction of the rights of students as an outcome of state policies and actions. The Department will also receive and react as appropriate to grievances from the public, including others, guardians, and parents about trainees who might experience discrimination as an outcome of states not enabling regional school districts to reduce infection transmission threat through masking requirements and other mitigation procedures. We will do what is best for trainees.

As President Biden explained in the Presidential Memorandum that he released today: ” Our priority should be the safety of students, families, educators, and staff in our school communities. Nothing needs to interfere with this objective.”.

I am also deeply troubled when I see the opposite: authorities that are putting politics ahead of trainees and obstructing their school districts from embracing science-based methods developed to safeguard students, aligned with CDC assistance..

These states are unnecessarily positioning students, families, and teachers at risk. in each of these states, there are also educators and others who are taking steps to safeguard the health and security of their school neighborhoods..

Defending Students Rights.

I want to stress this Departments commitment to protecting the rights of every trainee in the nation. The Department has the authority to investigate any state academic agency whose actions or policies might infringe on the rights of every student to gain access to public education similarly..

In addition, the Departments Office of Special Education Programs keeps track of states execution of the federal special education law that needs that trainees with impairments get a totally free, proper public education..

On behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, we stand with our teachers and leaders who are working to securely resume schools and preserve safe in-person instruction..

Ive seen terrific examples of states and school districts that are leading the method. Earlier today, I signed up with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf for a statement that the state will work to bring school-based vaccination clinics to every school district and use totally free screening testing for all schools. And I recently talked to Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who is making a restored push to motivate masking in Arkansas schools and offering incentives to qualified trainees to get immunized..

Heres what were doing at ED to deliver on the Presidents dedication:.

That is why our concern should be to help ensure that every student can safely go back to school in person. Amidst the unpredictability brought on by the pandemic and the Delta variant, the truth is that we understand what works to keep trainees and educators safe: following the science-based strategies for avoiding the spread of COVID-19 advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)..

Let me be clear– this Department will continue to utilize every tool in our tool kit to secure the health and wellness of students and teachers and to maximize in-person learning as the new school year starts..

By the end of this week, more than 62 percent of students throughout the country will complete their very first day of school..

We will do what is finest for trainees.

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