A timeline of how COVID has upended schools

July 8, 2020: Trump threatens to cut federal funding to schools that don’t reopen

President Donald Trump says his administration ‘could cut funding’ to schools that don’t resume face-to-face instruction, and points to the CDC’s reopening guidelines which he calls impractical and costly. The next day, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said that instead of “taking funds out of education,” her department supports the idea that students in places where schools aren’t reopening should be able to take the federal money and use it where they can get an education. in person.

July 23, 2020: CDC emphasizes importance of in-person learning

CDC revises school guidelines emphasize the importance of in-person learning. About “7.1 million children get their mental health service through schools,” then-CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield told a congressional hearing. “They get their nutritional support from their schools. We are seeing an increase in drug use disorders as well as suicide among adolescents. I think it’s really important to realize that it’s not public health versus the economy about reopening schools. »

July 28, 2020: AFT takes action to delay reopening of schools to protect teachers

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said the union would pursue various tactics, including lawsuits and strikes, to prevent schools from reopening without adequate safety measures. “If the authorities do not protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve … nothing is on the table – no advocacy or protests, negotiations, grievances or lawsuits, or, if necessary and authorized by a local union, as a last resort, security strikes, ”she said during a remote meeting of the biennial convention of the national union of teachers.

July 28, 2020: Fauci says there are still unanswered questions about how the coronavirus spreads

Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, tells educators in a virtual town hall that when it comes to reopening school buildings for in-person instruction, there are still many unanswered questions about the how the coronavirus is spread by children, and that teachers will be “part of the experiment”. His comment sparked an uproar on Twitter from teachers, who say they did not sign up to be part of such an experiment.

Fall 2020: Many districts are choosing to start the school year remotely

Some districts offer hybrid instruction, and some are able to offer full in-person instruction to all students.

Read more: School District Reopening Plans: An Overview

Deer Creek Elementary kindergarten teacher Vanessa Lackey prepares her class for the first day of class Thursday, August 13, 2020 in Nevada City, Calif.  The school offers classroom and distance learning options.  About 30% of students participate in Deer Creek Elementary remote learning alone.

September 2020: Federal vaccine distribution plan says states should prioritize teachers and school workers, alongside other essential workers

Not only does a new federal plan identify teachers and school workers as priority recipients of a vaccineit also identifies US schools as a crucial partner in administering vaccines.

December 2020: Teachers online for first doses of COVID vaccines

A wave of states are announcing they will prioritize teachers and school workers in thego vaccine distribution plans, but most, if not all, states are still focused on administering vaccines to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Valerie Kelly, a 5th grade teacher in Vincennes, Ind., receives the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on December 28, 2020.

December 27, 2020: Second federal COVID relief package provides $54.3 billion

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act allocates more than $190 billion to help schools pay for tutors and cleaning supplies and millions of computing devices.

Read more: Everything you need to know about schools and COVID relief funds

A line of volunteers carry iPads to be delivered to parents during curbside pickup at Eastside Elementary on March 23, 2020, in Clinton, Miss.  Educators distribute devices for remote learning as students are forced to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak.

January 2021: Biden calls for unified efforts to reopen schools in first 100 days of administration

A 200-page federal plan and executive orders from newly elected President Joe Biden call for “sustained and coordinated” efforts to reopen schools for in-person instruction, with state cooperation and new resources, guidance and data.

Read more: Biden launches new strategy to fight COVID-19 and reopen schools

February 2021: In Chicago and other major cities, teachers’ unions influence school reopening plans

The Chicago teachers’ union reaches a reopening agreement with the district that includes a deadline that gives the district more time to vaccinate teachers, which was a sticking point during weeks of negotiations. Many big city unions are in heated negotiations with their constituencies around this period.

Elementary 1 teacher Melissa Vozar sits outside Suder Elementary in Chicago to teach a virtual class on Jan. 11, 2021. The Chicago Teachers Union said its members voted to defy an order to return to class before being vaccinated against the coronavirus, staging a confrontation with district officials who said such a move would amount to an illegal strike.

February 2021: CDC issues new guidelines as part of Biden’s plan to reopen schools

“I want to be clear,” says CDC director Rochelle Walenksy. “With the release of this operational strategy, the CDC is not mandating the reopening of schools. The CDC is simply providing schools with a long-needed roadmap for how to do it safely under varying levels of illness in the community.

March 2021: Access to vaccines is accelerating for teachers

The vaccine landscape for teachers changes dramatically the day after Biden’s announcements a federal push for all teachers to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March.

Read more: Vaccine access ramps up for teachers after Biden statement

Cooper Elementary teacher Lizbeth Osuna receives the Moderna vaccine at a CPS vaccination site at Roberto Clemente High School in Chicago, Illinois on Thursday, February 11, 2021.

March 2021: Schools receive federal aid for homeless students

The U.S. bailout, the third major federal COVID relief package, includes $800 million for homeless children and youth (allocated by states), which has not been earmarked specifically for them in either previous relief agreements.

Read more: Everything you need to know about schools and COVID relief funds

March 19, 2021: CDC relaxes social distancing recommendations in classrooms

The CDC issues recommendations saying a 3-foot space between students wearing masks is sufficient protection in most classroom situations. Many educators and policymakers viewed the agency’s previous recommendation of 6 feet of space as a major barrier to a full return to in-person school.

Students learn in-person and virtually in Courtney Choura's geometry class at Seton LaSalle Catholic High School on March 3, 2021, in the Mt. Lebanon suburb of Pittsburgh.

Early April 2021: vaccines become available for adolescents

States begin to open vaccine eligibility to people 16 and older, a watershed moment for the pandemic. In early April 2021, two-thirds of teachers told the EdWeek research center that they had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. By the end of the month, that number had jumped to 80%.

April 20, 2021: USDA waives school lunch regulations until June 2022

After repeatedly extending waivers to school lunch regulations, USDA says flexibilities will last through June 2022. The waivers will also allow schools to continue distributing meals to students learning remotely without bureaucracy, which can make it logistically difficult.

May 10, 2021: Pfizer vaccine approved for ages 12 to 15

The approval is a major development in the overall campaign to vaccinate more Americans and help ensure healthy and safe operation of middle and high schools during the pandemic. Schools are beginning to open their buildings to facilitate the vaccination of school-aged children.

May 13, 2021: American Federation of Teachers says schools must reopen five days a week in the fall

“We can and must reopen schools in the fall for in-person teaching, learning and support,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a virtual address. “And keep them open – fully and safely five days a week.”

Graduation 2021: Health concerns and financial instability impact decisions to go to university

EdWeek research center surveys comparing the class of 2020 and 2021 graduates find that 74% of 2020 graduates who planned to attend four-year college followed through on their plans and ended up attending university. Only 62% of the class of 2021 were able to do the same. Among students who planned to attend a two-year college in 2021, only 44% managed to do so, compared to 57% of graduates who wanted to enter a two-year degree program in 2020.

An Odessa High School graduate looks up at the bleachers after entering the field at Ratliff Stadium at the start of the Class of 2021 graduation ceremony on May 28, 2021 in Odessa, Texas.

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