February 2, 2021
Statement on the Urgent Need to Safely Reopen Schools

The Board of Directors of Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of state and district education leaders, today issued the following statement on behalf of the membership. 

As negotiations regarding the conditions necessary to return the majority of our children to in-person schooling continue throughout the nation, we are compelled to both underscore what we know about safety and to demand action from the federal government, so that the president’s pledge to open schools in 100 days can be kept.

When the right precautions are taken—mask wearing, distancing and avoiding large gatherings, and extensive hand washing, cleaning, and sanitizing—schools are safe to open and are not places of secondary transmission of coronavirus. Indeed, they are far safer than many of the activities currently allowable in communities across the country. We call on the president, leaders of federal health agencies, along with the scientific community and representatives of school employees, to affirm this in the clearest possible terms and the loudest possible way.

The work of testing and vaccination must also continue.  Many teachers, families, and children are understandably worried. Comprehensive testing and progress on vaccination would ease the concern in our communities. More importantly, testing and vaccination are essential to stemming the tide of community spread outside of schools. School systems have an important role to play—and we are prepared to do our part. We call on Congress to act and, if it will not, on the president to use all the tools at his disposal to address the urgent needs of our communities.

In the meantime, there is no scientific reason to delay efforts to open our schools in a way that assures the safety of our students and their teachers. The need to do so is urgent, especially for our students of color, low-income students, and students with disabilities. We simply cannot wait any longer to attend in person to their learning, their health, and their wellbeing.