President Biden Signs Executive Order Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers
On January 21, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order (“EO”) on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers. The EO tasks federal agencies with supporting the safe reopening of schools, child care centers, and Head Start programs; mitigating the learning loss caused by the pandemic; and addressing educational disparities and inequities exacerbated by the pandemic.
President Biden’s nominees for Secretary of Education and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Miguel Cardona and Xavier Becerra, respectively, have been provided with a laundry list of duties, including:
- Providing evidence-based guidance to schools, child care centers, and Head Start programs on how to safely provide in-person care and instruction (e.g., through cleaning, masking, and testing);
- Collecting data measuring the disparate impacts of the pandemic on students and the current status of in-person learning, disaggregated by student demographics (e.g., race, ethnicity, disability, English-language-learner status, and family income);
- Developing reports on the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on students and strategies to address the impact of COVID-19 on educational outcomes;
- Supporting the development of virus contact tracing programs at the state and local levels;
- Ensuring that COVID-19-related supplies (e.g., testing materials) are equitably allocated to schools, child care providers, and Head Start programs; and
- Providing technical assistance to states and localities to distribute federal COVID-19 relief funds to child care providers.
To support remote learning for all students, the EO also encourages the Federal Communications Commission to increase connectivity options for students lacking reliable internet access.
This EO does not set deadlines for when these tasks must be accomplished. Rather, the EO only provides a general framework for President Biden’s strategies to support the safe reopening of schools.
If you have any questions regarding this Alert, you can contact the authors or your regular attorney at Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo.