A look at Biden’s 5-step plan to reopen schools during COVID

Biden's first goal is to try to control coronavirus with substantial increases in community testing and tracing
By: | November 11, 2020
Mask-wearing students are social distanced and protected by plexiglas shields in Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD in Texas.Mask-wearing students are social distanced and protected by plexiglas shields in Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD in Texas.

Closing pandemic-era learning gaps and emergency funding are among the incoming Biden-Harris administration’s plans for reopening schools safely as COVID rates continue to climb.

First in the Biden plan is to get the coronavirus under control with substantial increases in community testing and tracing. The president-elect intends to double the number of drive-through testing sites and put reopening decisions squarely in the hands of local and state leaders.

However, the incoming administration says it agrees with experts and teachers unions who have said that reopening schools in communities with high rates of transmission is not safe.

Biden would also task the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other federal agencies with ensuring that schools have sufficient PPEs, cleaning supplies and other resources to reconfigure classrooms to spread students out.

More from DA: Teacher pay tops Biden’s 5 priorities for K-12 education

Here are the other three steps in Biden’s school reopening plan:

Provide emergency education funding

Biden has called for the passage of the HEROES Act, which was approved by the House of Representatives and includes about $58 billion for local school districts.

The president-elect is also asking Congress to pass a separate emergency package to ensure schools and childcare centers have sufficient personal protective equipment, sanitation products, and custodial and health services as well as the ability to adjust ventilation systems, schedules, class sizes and transportations.

Learning during COVID

Biden plans to create a Safer Schools Best Practices Clearinghouse that would allow schools and childcare providers to share approaches, protocols and tools for reopening safely.

Closing gaps and emergency #K12 funding: A look at #Biden’s 5-step plan for #schoolsreopening during #COVID Click To Tweet
He also wants to provide more assistance to help schools tailor remote and hybrid learning to students with disabilities, English-language learners, and students with limited access to broadband and devices.

This would include increased professional development in online teaching for educators.

Biden also wants to increase research into how COVID affects children.

More from DA: Why COVID will be an ed-tech ‘game changer’ in Houston

Closing an equity gap

Biden expects to launch an accelerated White House-led initiative to find solutions to close gaps in learning, mental health, social and emotional well-being, and systemic racial and socioeconomic disparities in education.

The new administration also instead to create a COVID-19 Educational Equity Gap Challenge Grant that would encourage states and tribal governments to develop their plans to close their gaps.

Finally, Biden plans to increase support for community schools that work with local organizations to provide holistic services such as health and nutrition, mental health, and adult education.

DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.