President Joe Biden passed an executive order on January 21, 2021, to “ensure that students receive a high-quality education during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and to support the safe reopening and continued operation of schools,” including childcare providers, Head Start, and higher education. President Biden wants all schools to be ready to go back to in-person learning by April of this year.
Teachers, parents, and administrations disagree on how to get there. Several teachers’ unions across the country are pushing back against the move to reopen schools at this point in the pandemic. Notably, New York, Baltimore, and Chicago public schools have delayed plans to reopen their schools due to direct actions and lack of agreement between their districts and teachers’ unions.
In January, the Oregon Department of Education announced more relaxed guidelines for school openings, creating a path for schools — even in areas with higher coronavirus incidence, like Portland — to offer in-person instruction to students in coming months.
In light of this, Governor Kate Brown made the controversial decision to prioritize teachers over other groups to be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinations of the state’s roughly 26,000 teachers began last month. Many Oregon teachers will have received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before February 15, the target date for elementary school reopenings across the state.
“Reopening schools is paramount and necessitates immunizing educators,” Governor Brown asserted, pointing out the many shortcomings of remote learning, the social isolation students are experiencing, and the urgency of the waning school year. Others fear that returning to schools during the pandemic will create a host of other problems, including increasing community spread of the virus.
This week’s Current Event resources allow you to explore and promote meaningful discussion with your students about school reopenings during the coronavirus pandemic and its implications for all students, teachers, and community members.
- Where are schools reopening? When and how?
- What policies are being put in place to assure that schools are safe to open during the coronavirus pandemic?
- How will teacher vaccinations speed up the process of reopening schools? What problems may exist?
- What do the relaxed guidelines mean for school reopenings in Oregon?
Biden pushes to reopen schools while fighting COVID-19 pandemic — CBSN News
Audio & Podcasts:
Teachers Union Head: Examples Of Success And Trust Key To Reopening Schools (4 mins)
Oregon’s new school reopening measures clear a way for all Portland-area elementary schools to teach in person, The Oregonian, Jan. 19, 2021.
Fauci’s 2021 COVID California forecast: School reopenings, vaccines and some normalcy by fall, LA Times, Dec. 31, 2020.
Oregon schools to control their own reopening in 2021, The Observer, Dec. 30, 2020.
Six things to know about Chicago’s standoff with teachers over reopening schools, Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2021.
- CDC Director: Teacher Vaccinations Are Not a Prerequisite for Reopening Schools, Education Week, Feb. 3, 2021.
- Lessons from around the world: How schools are opening up after COVID-19 lockdowns, Reuters, May 13, 2020.
School Reopenings Are Biden’s First Big Test, Bloomberg, Jan. 28, 2021.
Editorial: Gov. Brown must ensure teachers’ vaccines lead to schools reopening, The Oregonian, Jan. 31, 2021.
4 steps to safely reopen schools and save our nation — Brookings Institute, Feb. 3, 2021
What it would really take to reopen American schools, Vox, Feb. 2, 2021
Resources for using Political Cartoons in the Classroom:
- Cartoons for the Classroom– Understanding Political Cartoons
- How To Analyze a Political Cartoon
- Political Cartoon Analysis
- COVID-19 School Settings — Center for Disease Control
Ready Schools Safe Learners 2020-21 Guidance – Oregon Health Authority
- Map: Where Are Schools Closed? — Education Week
Why do we all have to stay home? — National Science Teaching Association, elementary
- Teaching About Coronavirus: 3 Lesson Plans for Science, Math, and Media Literacy — Education Week Teacher, high school
- Interdisciplinary K-12 Resources on COVID-19 — National Geographic
Lesson Plans regarding Media & News Literacy (general):
Media Literacy Resources – Newseum
News & Media Literacy Lessons – Common Sense
Media Misinformation, Viral Deception, and «Fake News» – University of Wyoming
Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning About Fake News – New York Times Lessons