Biden’s back-to-school boost

Anant S., Staff Writer

President Biden has allotted $175 billion for the reopening K-12 schools and institutes of higher education around the country. 

The newly inaugurated President aims to reopen the majority of public schools within his first 100 days in office invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) and cooperating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

These plans are just a fraction of a larger $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan that is moving through Congress. If passed, this plan will distribute over $130 billion to k-12 schools throughout the country.

The plan delineates the different aspects of reopening schools safely, the first of which is providing ample supplies to schools, including hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment (PPE).

According to the White House, schools “need reliable access to supplies like masks and sanitizing products, as well as tests to implement regular COVID-19 screening,” and President Biden will “expand the availability of these supplies to meet schools’ needs, using the Defense Production Act (DPA) as necessary.”

According to FEMA, the DPA states “The President is authorized to allocate materials, services, and facilities… to such extent as he shall deem necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense.”

If used, the President can hasten production of PPE and tests, bringing on site testing and more PPE to schools.

President Biden will also be “directing FEMA to fully reimburse states for the cost of National Guard personnel and emergency supplies, including emergency supplies like PPE for schools and child care providers,” according to the White House.

These policies can help make schools safer containing the spread of COVID and can also have an effect on remote students’ decisions to attend in-person school.

“If there are more precautions I’d definitely feel more comfortable, especially because I [live with] high-risk [family members] and don’t want to get them sick,” said freshman Anna R. via text message.

Yet, some fully remote students aren’t planning on returning to school so soon.

“I would like to see on site testing, but it would not make me comfortable enough to go to school,” said freshman Jonathan Z. via text message.

Like Jonathan, many students are still remaining fully virtual, and there are positives and negatives to this decision. 

“Class is much more flexible. All I have to do is log onto zoom at the time the class starts,” said Jonathan Z.

This flexibility does come at a cost, however, as lessons aren’t as engaging. Distractions can factor into students’ learning experiences, as well. Some classes taught in person at Commack High School are not being taught remotely. 

“Advanced classes or French classes [aren’t offered] online,” said Anna R. 

Although the light at the end of this tunnel is visible, there are still many changes that need to be made before society can return to normal. The reopening of schools is an important step, in which the Biden Administration has placed emphasis on.🔳