Getting Back to Work Means Getting Kids Back in School — Safely
$10 billion: That’s how much the U.S. government will spend on Covid-19 testing in schools across the country, according to the Wall Street Journal. The funding, part of the recent $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, formally known as the American Rescue Plan Act, is meant to fuel the Biden administration’s drive to get as many schools reopened as quickly as possible — an effort that’s fast becoming a political issue as much as a health and safety issue.
While schools have not proven to be Covid-19 hot spots per se, widespread closures have been a pain point for many Americans for months, and as the one-year anniversary of the first wave of shutdowns has come and gone, many working parents are at a breaking point. Reopenings have begun to happen to varying degrees and in varying locales, but concerns remain in many districts that both children and teachers may remain at too much risk for classes to resume in full. Testing programs — generally too pricey and complex for typical public schools to handle on their own — could tame that risk. “We know that [testing] works to identify cases and slow the spread of Covid,” a White House spokesperson said in a briefing.
The funding dovetails with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommending that masked students remain three feet apart instead of six. In addition, the federal government is prodding states to make teachers eligible for vaccinations everywhere and as soon as possible. Even so, many parents have been through so many fits and starts with reopening promises that they will likely believe in a full return to something resembling normal only when they’re actually living it. As one parent in highly taxed New Jersey told the New York Times recently: “I’ve lost a lot of faith in my district.” Maybe federal money can help restore it — just in time for working parents to head back to the office.
Meanwhile, guess who really wants schools reopened: kids!