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Op-Ed: School Reopenings Are Biden’s First Big Test

By Mike Bloomberg

America’s schoolchildren and teachers have just gotten some very good news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After reviewing data from multiple studies in the U.S. and abroad, the agency has concluded that in-person schooling poses very little risk of coronavirus transmission as long as basic safety precautions are followed. That should send a clear message to governors, mayors and teachers’ union leaders: It’s time to open the schools.

In addition to the terrible toll Covid-19 has taken on the nation’s health, it’s been a calamity for American education. Only about 15% of school districts offered full-time in-person classes last fall. For students and parents elsewhere, the pandemic has meant navigating novel and often dubious remote-learning software. Any parent of a young child can attest that virtual instruction typically falls somewhere between subpar and hopeless.

The results have been alarming but not surprising. Early research suggests sharply reduced learning gains; widening racial disparities in achievement; and an eruption of anxiety, loneliness, depression and other mental-health afflictions among students isolated from their peers and stuck at home. Some districts have seen a rash of suicides. Education analysts warn that the long-term consequences — for disadvantaged kids, for racial equity, even for America’s global competitiveness — could be disastrous.

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