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NEA responds to reopening guidelines from National Academy of Sciences

WASHINGTON - July 15, 2020 -

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement in response to recommendations by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine agrees on its reopening public schools:

“As we have consistently stated before, no one wants students to safely return to classrooms more than parents, educators and administrators. Whether school buildings are open or not this fall, educators have been working — and will continue to work — to make sure students have the best possible learning experience and have what they need to succeed. So let’s not rush students and educators into classrooms when no one can ensure they are safe yet.

“The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine agrees with us that the safety of students and educators are critical pieces of the decisions school districts must make, calling for masks, hand sanitizer, and healthy ventilation systems. The report also noted that in-person learning has many benefits for students, and called upon ‘representatives of school staff, families, local health officials, and other community interests to inform decisions related to reopening schools.’

“The bottom line is that without a comprehensive plan that includes federal resources to provide for the safety of our students and educators with funding for personal protective equipment, socially distanced instruction, and addressing racial inequity, we could be putting students, their families, and educators in danger.

“Unfortunately, not everyone involved in making decisions is heeding this advice. Betsy DeVos, the least qualified Secretary of Education to ever serve in that capacity, and Donald Trump are endangering the lives of students by putting politics ahead of safety. They are failing America’s public schools, students, parents, and educators by rushing to reopen our public schools. Their mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic has been chaotic, clueless and callous. 

“Right now, due to the economic crisis brought forth by this pandemic, we have already lost nearly one million education jobs, and another 2 million more are at risk. Funding has fallen off a cliff. We want to open schools, but we cannot bring students back to the classroom if we don’t get the support from the Senate to do it safely and to make sure they have what they need to succeed.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, students preparing to become teachers, healthcare workers, and public employees. Learn more at

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez, NEA Communications  202-491-9532 cell,