Secretary of Education talks reopening schools

Miguel Cardona, who was sworn in this week, discusses how to safely open in-person learning to students and the obstacles they face as more states lift COVID-19 restrictions.
4:14 | 03/04/21

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Transcript for Secretary of Education talks reopening schools
Let's bring in the education secretary Miguel Cardona. Thanks for joining us on "Gma." I think it's your first time on "Gma." Let's talk about re-opening schools. It's your top priority. The president promised it in his first 100 days. How close are we and how long will it take to achieve? Thank you, George. I'm glad to be here and an honor to serve as secretary of education. The goal of re-opening schools quickly and safely is the priority and what we're finding there are places doing it really well and places that need more support to get it done but it is our goal in the first 100 days to re-open as many schools as possible, pre-k through 8 but not forgetting high schoolers need to return back to school safely. Realistically we won't have all kids in school five days a week, some of them some of the time. What exactly do you expect in these next 58 days? You know, I expect we'll be focused really intently on making sure we are sharing best practices. You know, the first lady and I visited two communities yesterday, one in Pennsylvania and one in Connecticut where they're doing an awesome job getting students back into school safely. The educators want that the parents want that the students want it and we have to make sure we're doing everything we can to get them in as much as possible. Five days if possible to make sure they're accessing in-person learning. President now says it's a priority to get teachers vaccinated in March but the CDC says they aren't a prerequisite to return S it fair to prioritize them over other essential work jers. I'm pleased that the president took that approach. You know, the CDC was clear but I also reng nice that as a former commissioner in Connecticut, you know, we were seeing that schools were closing not because there was transmission in schools but because we had to quarantine teachers that might have been exposed. Educators, not just teachers, different staff members so we were finding that schools were closing as a result of quarantining, not covid transmission. So if we vaccinate our educators there's a greaterikelihood we won't have to close for quarantine because you don't have to quarantine so for me this is a positive step in the right direction to re-open our schools safely. You were a teacher, an administrator as well, what would make you comfortable to be back in a classroom now? Listen, I'm a father and I have two children that attend schools and they've been attending since the beginning of the year. For me what I want tore my children is what I want for all children, make sure that there are clear mitigation strategies, that they're being enforced that my students are safe, I wouldn't compromise their health and safety to go into school but it can be done. We've seen it. There are models across the country that we have to lift so we can learn from one another and safely re-open our school. This pandemic has taken a huge toll on learning as you know. How much have kids fallen behind over the last year and how can you fix it? You know, visiting schools yesterday, one thing that stood out to the first lady and myself is a sense of community that schools provide. It's not just about reading and math and, it's really about that sense of community, almost like a second family we know schools pry for our students. That's the priority to get them back in and something we have to as a country come together and prioritize. Making sure that we can safely return our students to school. Normal school year in September? Define normal, right? I think what we have's done is we've learned what work, what doesn't work and we have to do everything to get them in, to try to re-engage our students. You know, as I said yesterday, we have the future lin-manuel Miranda waiting for their drama clubs to start and future astronauts and mark kellys to get their S.T.E.M. Labs. It's not the way they looked before March 12th of last year but giving purpose to the communities and making sure they're prepared. A goal we all share, secretary Cardona, thanks very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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