U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona took part in his first White House press briefing on Wednesday afternoon to talk about funding schools will receive to help them reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Cardona, who grew up in Meriden, is the former commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Education and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who is also from Connecticut, introduced him as a "fellow Nutmegger."
"That means from Connecticut for any of you that don't know," Psaki told the White House press pool gathered for the news conference.
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Cardona said his goal as education secretary is to safely reopen as many schools as possible as quickly as possible.
Cardona said he notified the states and territories of how much funding they will be receiving from the American Rescue Plan, totaling nearly $122 billion to help them reopen safely.
"I'm also pleased to share that HHS is allocating an additional $10 billion for states to do screening and surveillance testing in schools to make sure we can not only open our schools but keep them open," Cardona said.
and said the department will be receiving reports from the states on how the funds are allocated. He said it's important that funding support students.
This briefing takes part days before the U.S. Department of Education holds a national safe school reopening summit next week.
"Since day one, my top priority, and a top priority for President Biden and Vice President Harris, has been to get kids safely back into schools full time. To accomplish this, we need to bring together students, educators, and school district leaders to listen and learn from one another as we work together to reopen schools quickly, safely, and equitably, and address the academic, social and emotional needs of our students," Cardona said in a statement. "We are holding this Summit with the goal of sharing best practices and connecting leaders, educators, and students from across this country who are navigating this challenge together and finding creative solutions to support our students and bring them back to in-person learning. And we need to make sure we are listening to communities who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. The time is now, and schools across the country must act immediately to get students safely back into school buildings."
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According to a statement on the U.S. Department of Education website, the summit is one of a series of steps the U.S. department will to provide support and resources to schools as they work to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
President Joe Biden has also directed all U.S. states and territories to prioritize vaccinations for teachers and staff in Pre-K-12 schools and childcare providers throughout this month, with the goal of all providing them with at least one dose of a vaccine by the end of March, according to the U.S. Department of Education
Connecticut educators and school staff members are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in the current phase of eligibility.