COVID-19 has shut schools down all over the country. As more people get vaccinated, they are slowly beginning to open back up. Some areas are still online only. Many are offering hybrid instruction, but nationwide most districts have already returned to some level of in-person learning. US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona expects every district to offer full-time in-person instruction by the fall.
“I want all students to have the opportunity to learn in person in the spring, but I expect it in the fall,” Cardona said at an education writers’ event on May 3. “I need all students to have the opportunity to learn in the schoolhouse.”
There has been increased conversation around the country about whether or not students are returning to school quickly enough. Though some parents are still choosing to keep their kids at home, others have raised issues about the lack of in-person learning. This is occurring while many teacher-led groups have voiced concerns about safety.
Nobody debates that lack of in-person options has crippled the education system. Research shows that damage has not been evenly distributed. Areas that were generally underserved before were perhaps unsurprisingly the least equipped to adapt to e-learning models. This was in addition to the issues those students already faced in schools, a topic that Cardona also touched on at the event.
“What I don’t want to see, to be very candid with you, is a system where students who were underserved in the past, select remote learning because they don’t feel that that school is welcoming or safe for them.”
The Secretary of Education left the door open to increased federal oversight for districts that fail to reopen.
“While it’s not the federal government’s role to micromanage education, it is our role to make sure that all children across the country are getting a free and appropriate public education, one where they have the opportunity to succeed in life.”