Miguel Cardona, Education Secretary, said Thursday morning that he expects all schools to be completely operational by the fall for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began more than a year ago.
Cardona made his comments on MSNBC’s show Morning Joe, recognizing that President Joe Biden reached one of his administration goals of opening a majority of K-8 schools to in-person learning five days a week this spring.
“With regard to September, yes, I expect all schools to be open full time in person for all students,” Cardona said on morning show. “We really need to make sure students have the opportunity to learn in the classroom, and quite frankly, I’d rather have it this spring.”
Cardona believes that the drive to reopen schools is crucial when educators discovered that in-classroom teaching was clearly more successful than extending online learning.
“Students don’t learn as well remotely,” Cardona said. “There is no substitute for in-person learning.”
Cardona stated in a White House announcement on the findings of the March 2021 National Assessment of Educational Progress that 54 percent of all K-8 schools are now available for full instruction and 88 percent are open to at least a combination of in-person and interactive learning.
“Today’s data also shows positive trendlines of increasing numbers of Black, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian/Alaska Native students enrolled in in-person learning since January,” Cardona said. “This success is the result of hard work and intentional collaboration between the administration, states, school districts, educators and families across the country.”
Cardona, on the other hand, said that the reopening campaign would not be complete until all schools are safe to reopen. According to him, schools continue to see a much smaller number of Black, Hispanic, and Asian students enrolled in full-time in-person schooling than their White peers.
“Even when offered in-person options, many Black, Hispanic, and Asian students, as well as multilingual learners and students with disabilities, are still learning fully remote,” Cardona said. “At the national and local level, we must act with urgency and bring every resource to bear to get more schools reopened full-time this spring and address the inequities that continue to persist in our classrooms and communities.”