A bid to reopen the majority of schools within his first 100 days was among Biden’s biggest promises before taking office. When he finally put forward the specifics in mid-February, he said it meant becoming “close to” the majority of K–8 grades opened for in-person instruction five days a week by the end of April.
That goal has already been reached, according to data from Burbio, a community tracking firm that gathers publicly available data from 1,200 school districts, representing 35,000 schools, in all 50 states, according to its website.
By March 8, more than 51 percent of grades K–8 were open for traditional in-person instruction, although looking at middle-school grades only, less than 41 percent were open.
In the week starting April 5, more than 55 percent of students will visit schools that offer traditional in-person instruction, including nearly 64 percent in elementary grades, over 50 percent in middle school grades, and nearly 47 percent in high schools.
The reopening trend started in early September 2020, when school lockdowns approached their peak. Only 19 percent of students went to schools that offered traditional instruction, Burbio reported on Sept. 2.
Reopening continued at speed of about 2 percent per week until November when it changed because of another wave of lockdowns. Shutdowns reached a zenith in early January when less than 31 percent of schools offered traditional instruction. Since then, the reopening continued at a rate of about 2 percent per week.
The data show no visible sign that Biden policies sped up the reopening.
On Feb. 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released school reopening guidelines that divided districts into blue, yellow, orange, and red zones based on local data regarding the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
In orange and red zones, only incomplete in-person instruction should have been allowed, according to the guidelines. But when Burbio crunched the data, essentially all American children lived in red and orange zones. They still do. School reopening returns despite the restrictions, it seems.
On March 19, the CDC allowed schools to lessen “social distancing” between students and staff from six feet to three feet. Some districts cited the guidelines in their decisions to allow more in-person instruction, according to Burbio. But the reopening data show no quickening of the reopening course.
Public school officials have been under the influence of parents and some politicians to reopen, especially after health authorities said children are unlikely to spread the virus.
The virtual instruction that schools chiefly implemented proved significantly less efficient than traditional classrooms.