We are deeply concerned with provisions of the HEALS Act, which proposes $70 billion to support K-12 schools in navigating the fallout from the COVID-19 global pandemic, two-thirds of which is tied to the physical reopening of school buildings. With many districts unable to safely reopen at this time because of high community transmission rates, many schools stand to lose out on a substantial portion of the HEALS Act’s promised resources, which they desperately need to ensure high-quality teaching and learning continues for the 2020-2021 school year. Additionally, the $70 billion allocated to K-12 schools is far short of the funding that national experts estimate will be necessary to fully support educators, students, and families at this time, especially those from marginalized groups disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Many of our organizations believe that K-12 schools need between $175 billion and $200 billion.
Archive for August, 2020
This moment in time is anything but typical. As the beginning of the school year nears and the pandemic surges, we are left wondering, what will our classrooms look like this fall? Preparing to return to school will look different for parents, students, and educators alike. And if the Trump administration has its way, all schools and universities will be forced to reopen with in-person education.
Determined to open schools despite the surge in COVID-19 cases, President Trump threatens to withhold federal funds as a means to force schools and universities into on campus, in-person education. His statement in early July was issued when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had yet to release updated guidance on how to safely reopen schools. In fact, the revised guidelines weren’t released until July 23—leaving schools only weeks to prepare for what will undoubtably be a monumental challenge.
Federal funds must not be used as leverage to force schools and universities to provide in-person classes amidst the current surge of the coronavirus. Instead, federal funds should be allocated to aid colleges and universities in their recovery from the significant, financial challenges caused by the pandemic, to equip institutions with the proper tools to reduce the spread of coronavirus on their campuses, and to provide liability protection.