As Covid-19 cases continue to surge across the US, the Biden administration is urging school districts to take certain safety measures to ensure classrooms remain open for in-person instruction in the second half of the school year, according to a new resource guide addressed to school leaders, which was obtained by CNN on Monday.
In it, the US Department of Education outlines key strategies for keeping students and educators safe while maintaining in-person learning.
“After settling back into a school routine, many districts are eager to return to the ease of pre-COVID interactions and learning experiences, but we urge significant caution before decreasing any mitigation strategies. It is incredibly important that all schools work to remain open for in-person learning five days a week, especially in light of the Omicron variant,” according to the department’s document.
“The goal remains to keep all schools open for in-person learning five days a week throughout the 2021-22 school year and beyond—let’s make this goal a reality!” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote in a message to school leaders.
Cardona also urged school leaders to adopt safety strategies to “keep our students and staff safely in school and avoid quarantines and unnecessary closures or disruptions” — including collaborating with local health departments, encouraging vaccinations in school communities and implementing widespread Covid screening testing and “Test to Stay” strategies, among other measures.
This comes amid a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases across the country, leaving many school districts to grapple with questions about in-person and remote instruction as students return from winter break in the coming weeks.
Cardona has emphasized that schools should continue to prioritize in-person learning, with proper mitigation and testing strategies in place to protect students and school staff.
“We know what works, we know how to protect ourselves, there's no reason our schools should be going remote fully, we need to keep our kids in the classroom,” Cardona said in a CNN interview last week.