Reopening schools and keeping them open, while it’s critical, it’s insufficient. Our hardest and most important work lies ahead. It’ll be what we’re judged against. And I want to be very, very clear, as educators and leaders, we’re either closing educational opportunity gaps or making them worse with the decisions we’re going to make in the next coming months and years. Our students’ success is at stake, not just the students we serve today. But also those who are yet to be born. Our country’s strength is at stake. Our status in the world is at stake. Safely reopen schools is just the baseline. It’s not good enough. We must make up for lost time. Our schools must offer increased access to mental health support for students, wraparound programs, meaningful and authentic parent and family engagement, and interventions for those students who felt the impact of the pandemic much more bluntly than others. Thanks to President Biden and Vice President Harris’ leadership in passing the American Rescue Plan and providing $130 billion, schools have the resources to not only stay open, but to invest in recovery. We moved with urgency, and I’m proud to say that 100 percent of the funds are now in the state’s hands for use to support our students, our families and our educators. And I’d like to challenge all of our district leaders to set a goal of giving every child that fell behind during the pandemic at least 30 minutes per day, three times a week, with a well-trained tutor who is providing that child with consistent, intensive support. We cannot expect classroom teachers to do it all. Districts have the American Rescue Plan funds available to them today to invest in these efforts.
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