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Joe Biden releases plan to reopen schools amid coronavirus

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  • Joe Biden released a plan on Friday regarding how schools should approach reopening this fall. It underscored the need for clear federal guidance to states, which is lacking under President Trump.
  • “The current lack of clarity” from the Trump administration is “paralyzing for schools,” according to Biden’s video statement.
  • The five-step plan suggests individual communities should make decisions based on local conditions, such as how many coronavirus infections have been reported and the amount of school funding to ensure safe teaching conditions.
  • Schools should reopen if “people” wear masks and if teachers can practice social distancing, he said, adding that otherwise, it’s too dangerous to reopen.

  • Biden said he supports the $58 billion of federal funds that the House has already approved for schools, and at least another $34 billion should join it. 
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Joe Biden’s campaign released a plan on Friday for how schools should consider reopening this fall. It focuses on creating basic federal guidelines while allowing schools to make decisions at the local level. It also urges Congress to pass additional emergency funding to bolster school reopening.

Biden’s plan was also accompanied by a video of him and his wife, Jill, an educator. “Teachers are tough,” Jill said in the video. “But it’s wrong to endanger educators and students. We need a better plan.”

“Forcing educators and students back into classrooms in areas where infection rates are going up or remaining too high is just plain dangerous,” Biden said.

The campaign’s plan lays out five necessary steps. The first step? The country needs to “get the virus under control.” To do so, Biden suggests increasing testing and contact tracing and utilizing the Defense Production Act to procure PPE in addition to adhering to social distancing guidelines and wearing masks.

Second, the plan details, national guidelines should be set. “Schools need clear, consistent, effective national guidelines … The current lack of clarity is paralyzing for schools.” Thus far, the plan says, schools have been more or less flying blind. While the proposed guidelines would cover basics, like what infection rate would keep a school closed, they would also allow individual communities to make decisions based on local conditions.

As coronavirus cases surge across the country, it is likely Biden’s plan would encourage most schools to remain remote or to delay reopening.

Third, Biden urged the Senate to pass the $58 billion of federal funds that the House voted to allocate for schools, and to add at least another $34 billion to that number. The emergency funding would mostly help schools reopen safely, for instance providing ventilation systems, personal protective equipment, and more, while $4 billion would specifically go toward updating technology and broadband.

Fourth, the plan calls for elevated remote learning experiences.

Fifth, Biden’s campaign said it wants to narrow the educational equity gap in the future.

Biden’s statement comes as Trump continues to push for widespread reopenings and threaten funding cuts to schools that resist.

On Monday, when asked about an Arizona teacher who died from the coronavirus, Trump didn’t answer the question, saying “Schools should be opened.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany reemphasized that stance on Thursday. She said Trump wants schools to be “open and full,” and “the science should not stand in the way of this.”

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