Everyone wants students back in schools as soon as it is safe,” said Anna Maria Chávez, Executive Director and CEO of the National School Boards Association (NSBA). “The pandemic has also brought renewed attention on the critical importance of public schools to our communities. Public schools don’t just educate our students. They feed our students. They provide safety for our students. They provide a routine, a sense of normality. For students, educators, and parents, that routine has been disrupted for nearly a year.
“This is especially true for vulnerable student populations and their families, such as students with disabilities, for whom the pandemic was a snapping point for an already stretched situation. As schools begin to reopen, priority must be made for those students facing the greatest challenges.
“Additional funding and resources from the federal government are a critical component in any reopening decision—local schools and states cannot do this on their own. Educators must have access to vaccines, as well as the personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, testing, and other resources they need. School buildings, many of which are 40 or 50 years old, were already in desperate need of an upgrade even before COVID hit.
“Today’s phased reopening announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and non-binding guidance from the U.S. Department of Education acknowledge that every community is different. It also recognizes the flexibility schools have already demonstrated this year in terms of in-person, virtual, reduced attendance, or hybrid approaches based on local data and community needs.
“School board members, educators, and all school staff have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic to safely provide our kids with an excellent education. Their voices are critical in discussions about how and when to re-enter schools and classrooms.”