President Joe Biden’s team is promising new guidance on school reopenings next week. But even as more Covid-19 vaccine shots go into arms two and half weeks into his administration, there is growing impatience and frustration among parents about the biggest question looming over their lives: when their children can get back in the classroom.
The issue of school reopenings emerged as a central flashpoint this week as the anger that many parents and teachers are feeling is spilling into courtroom battles and potentially headed toward the picket line in Chicago, home to the third-largest school district in the country. Biden has said he wants to open the majority of K-8 schools within his first 100 days, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the CDC will provide more advice on how they can safely do so next week.
But reopening policies and the readiness of campuses to usher children back through their doors currently vary wildly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction – a legacy of the Trump administration’s decentralized approach to managing Covid-19. And the ability of schools to reopen hinges on the coronavirus transmission rate in each locality – meaning that the CDC’s advice next week is unlikely to offer anxious parents any immediate, one-size-fits-all answers that bring clarity to when their lives will get back to normal.
Even after Biden set his 100-day goal for reopening, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said achieving that goal “may not happen because there may be mitigating circumstances.”