The nation's Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, warned Sunday there will be “bumps in the road” as schools reopen this week amid a massive surge of COVID-19 infection caused by the omicron variant.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Cardona said despite teachers and other school staff calling in sick with the virus ahead of schools’ reopening, they can “turn on a dime” — and stressed vaccine mandates for should always be a local decision.
“I do think there will be bumps on the road, especially [Monday],” he said. “Superintendents are receiving calls of staff members that they were expecting to be in the classroom tomorrow who have come down with COVID, so we are going to roll up our sleeves, all hands on deck, let's keep our children in the classroom. That should be our default thinking.”
According to Cardona, if schools need to go remote, it'll be an exception, not the rule.
“We learned that educators were able to turn on a dime when pandemic came and we moved to remote learning across the country,” he said. “It wasn't ideal but we know that we are able to adapt. The goal however remains to stay focused on in person learning not only for our students' academic needs but for their social, emotional needs.”
He said if a “short-term emergency” is necessary “schools should have the tools because they have the resources to provide education that way.”
Cardona also said vaccine mandates in schools must be a local decision.
“We know over the last year and a half in those places where vaccination numbers are high, there's less disruption,” he said. “There are less students in a hospital, so we need to continue pushing efforts to provide access to vaccines for our children.”
He also acknowledged it will be important to work with parents both during the pandemic — and afterward.
“I’ve talked to parents, and they want their children in school, they want their children safe, and they want to be heard,” he said.
“This partnership with parents needs to continue,” he added. “I want to see it elevated as we move forward past the pandemic and it's really important that we work together to make sure children are in the classroom and that they are safe.”
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