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COVID surge shouldn’t close schools, says Biden Education secretary: ‘I worry about government overreach’

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during a ceremony honoring the Council of Chief State School Officers’ 2023 Teachers of the Year in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, April 24, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says schools should not be shutting down due to surges in COVID-19 and expressed worry about government overreach.

“I worry about government overreach, sending down edicts that will lead to school closures because either folks are afraid to go in or are infected and can’t go,” Cardona told The Associated Press in an interview. 

Despite the new wave of COVID-19 cases, “schools should be open, period,” Cardona said, according to the AP. 

Earlier this month, hospitalization rates and deaths from COVID-19 rose to double-digit percentage, although the rates were still well below pandemic-era levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At the beginning of the academic year, a couple of schools had to close temporarily due to COVID-19 cases among staff and needing more educators to have classes. 

Cardona told the AP that in-person instruction “should not be sacrificed for ideology” and that school closures harmed community relationships.

The CDC recently approved new vaccines to fight COVID-19 and the Biden administration has announced they are once again sending free COVID-19 tests to Americans who want them. 

Cardona also weighed in on legacy admissions during the interview, the practice of universities’ giving preference to students of alumni or donors, which typically benefit white or rich applicants.

While the education secretary believes the decision is ultimately up to the schools and there “is no edict coming from the secretary of Education,” Cardona believes there are mechanisms the department can use to discourage the practice, according to the AP. 

“I would be interested in pulling whatever levers I can pull as secretary of Education to ensure that, especially if we’re giving out financial aid and loans, that we’re doing it for institutions that are providing value,” Cardona told the AP after he was asked about using federal money as leverage to end legacy admissions.


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