LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Presidential candidate Joe Biden has released a plan to reopen schools safely, including goals like expanding coronavirus testing and ensuring students have access to high-speed internet for remote learning.
WFXR News spoke with Virginia educators about the pandemic’s impact on schools and their thoughts on Biden’s plan.
“It’s not like we could not see what was going on around the world,” said Stephanie Cook, a special education teacher in Franklin County.
Cook says she is shocked by the federal response to the pandemic.
“I believe we all hoped and prayed that someone would pump the break at some point, that republican leadership would realize the incalculable error they had made in diminishing and dismissing this virus instead of uniting across the aisle to attack it head-on as Americans.”
According to Cook, that dismissal compounded the problems schools faced when trying to reopen.
“The minute it became clear to us that the economy was taking a massive hit, teachers collectively died a little inside, because we knew, without a question, that our funding was going to the chopping block. It’s what always happens.”
Former Virginia Secretary of Education, Anne Holton, says the virus amplified existing inequalities in the education system.
“I, as a member of the board of education, am particularly concerned about the equity impact of the pandemic that we’re in,” said Holton.
She says things like high speed internet become even more crucial.
It’s why Cook supports Joe Biden and his plan to reopen schools, which provides funding for schools to reopen safely.
“It specified where that funding is going,” said Cook, “so things like expanding internet access and repairing of ventilation and HVAC systems. It addresses the specific needs, and I think that overall big picture view gets narrowed down to what exactly we need in the plan.”
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