It’s been less than a week since Joe Biden was sworn in as president and Kamala Harris as vice president, and big changes are in the works. Already, President Biden has issued over 25 executive orders to address the pandemic, reverse some of the Trump administration’s most damaging policies, and help reopen most K-8 school buildings within 100 days. In addition, he is urging Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief and stimulus package that includes $130 billion in dedicated funding for schools, $350 billion in state and local aid, and $35 billion in emergency funds for colleges.
“No one wants to return to in-person learning more than the educators who have dedicated their lives to helping their students succeed, but reopening school buildings must be done safely and equitably,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “Educators are encouraged not only by President Biden’s leadership, but also by knowing that there is finally a true partner in the White House who will prioritize students by working with educators in the decision-making process.”
President Biden also issued an executive order that restores collective bargaining rights to federal employees, including those in Department of Defense schools represented by the Federal Education Association, an NEA affiliate. Other executive orders prioritize racial and gender equity, roll back the Muslim travel ban, and halt construction of the wall on our southern border. Biden also moved to extend the suspension of student loan payments and interest through Sept. 2021, the federal moratoria on evictions and foreclosures until at least the end of March, and announced that the United States is rejoining the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accords.
This year’s inaugural celebration looked very different from previous inaugurations due to the need for heightened security, social distancing, and face masks to contain the pandemic that has cost 400,000 Americans their lives — more than World War II. Televised festivities featured Hollywood stars and former presidents, but it was kindergarten teacher Mackenzie Adams who stole commentators’ hearts. More than 14 million people have viewed her TikTok video on remote teaching and learning.