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Biden’s Goal to Open Most Schools in 100 Days Is Not a Long Shot

But even if he meets it, reopenings will remain bumpy thanks to fears of continuing Covid-19 transmission and clashes with teacher unions. 

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Illustration: Hel Covell for Bloomberg Businessweek

Joe Biden pledged in early December to reopen most U.S. school buildings within his first 100 days as president: “It should be a national priority to get our kids back into school and keep them in school,” he said. Soon after, however, he narrowed that goal to a majority of elementary and middle—rather than all K-12—schools. And on Jan. 28, Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, warned that meeting even the lower target “may not happen.”

Technically, in fact, it may have happened already. There’s no comprehensive list of nationwide school reopenings. But according to a tracker by Burbio, a company that specializes in aggregating school calendars, more than half of the 53 million K-12 students in the U.S. had access to some in-person learning during the first week of February, and the number of students attending virtual-only schools trended down throughout January.