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Education secretary says school in the fall ‘will look more like what it was before Covid’

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“My focus really now is to open so many schools (from preschool to eight schools) in the first 100 days, but also to try to open those high schools so that we can get all the students back safely and attractively with their friends and learning to ‘classroom, where they learn best,’ Cardona told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an interview.

The secretary added that students across the country have shown an “inspiring” level of resilience during the pandemic and said there will be a renewed focus on mental health following the passage of President Joe Biden Covid-19 relief plan.

“We need to make sure that through this American rescue plan we use these resources to provide intervention and support, not only with academic needs, but much more importantly, with the social and emotional needs that our students will reach. school, “Cardona said.

Comments are based on theirs confirmation hearing he promised to do everything in his power to reopen schools safely, an issue that has become a national hot spot in recent weeks as vaccine distribution in the U.S. increases. The president has set himself the goal of reopening most U.S. schools for face-to-face learning within his first 100 days in office, and earlier this month urged states to give priority for teachers and school staff to obtain at least the initial vaccinations at the end of March.
The Department of Education on Wednesday announced the amount of stimulus funds of the America Rescue Plan which plans to give each state the $ 122 billion allocated to K-12 schools. He The Department of Health and Human Services also said Wednesday which will provide an additional $ 10 billion in Covid-19 testing for students, teachers and school staff.

Cardona said Wednesday that he did not plan to force vaccinations for teachers to reopen schools, but stressed that “prioritizing vaccinations will only help that.”

“My experience was when schools had to close, it wasn’t because Covid spread to schools, it was because we had to quarantine educators, we had to quarantine teachers,” he told NBC . “Having the vaccine will help us keep the doors open – it’s not just about opening schools, it’s about making sure they’re open.”

Earlier Wednesday, Cardona declined to say whether the Biden administration would order vaccinating teachers who would return to work at some point, and told reporters in the newsroom: “At this time, vaccination is available for educators “.

“I am proud that the president is giving priority to vaccinating educators, because we know that when this is not the case, schools are more likely to close because of quarantine,” he added.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, Dra. Rochelle Walensky, he previously told CNN that while it is a “strong advocate for vaccinated teachers,” the agency does not believe it is a prerequisite for schools to reopen.

Walensky said earlier Wednesday that the CDC plans to issue new guidelines that allow for less social distancing in schools. He said the agency is studying studies indicating that the 3-foot physical distance is enough to keep students and teachers safe in school.

Cardona said at the briefing that if the CDC updates its guidelines to allow for less social distancing in schools, it would potentially get more students into classrooms.

“If it reaches 3 feet, it will provide more opportunities, possibly, for students to enter our schools, which is the goal,” Cardona told reporters.

CNN’s Katie Lobosco and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.

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