Education Department convening summit to help schools reopen


WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is convening a summit next week to help get children back into the classroom safely in the middle of a pandemic.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the sessions March 24 will give education leaders, teachers and students an opportunity to share their experiences in reopening schools.

“The time is now, and schools must act immediately to get students safely back into school buildings,” he said.

President Joe Biden has pledged to have most elementary and middle schools open by the end of his first 100 days in office. He has ordered states to prioritize teachers in their vaccination plans, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidelines to help schools reopen. But one of those guidelines — that students be seated 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart — is already being reviewed because of the challenges of achieving that.

The Education Department said first lady Jill Biden will deliver opening remarks to the summit, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC, also will speak.

“We are holding this summit with the goal of sharing best practices and connecting leaders, educators and students from across this country who are navigating this challenge together and finding creative solutions to support our students and bring them back to in-person learning,” Cardona said.

The summit comes after passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, which includes $130 billion in education funding. Schools that receive funding will be required to have a plan within 30 days for reopening schools.

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