First Lady Jill Biden has said she will return to the Northern Virginia Community College campus next week to resume in-person teaching of writing composition.
Biden will commute via motorcade to the Alexandria campus every Tuesday and Thursday, and will even hold office hours. Secret service agents will be accompanying the first lady, who will wear a mask at all times when on campus, even though she is fully vaccinated, in accordance with the college’s rules.
She said she welcomed the return to in-person teaching, adding that ‘It’s hard to learn on Zoom,’ as opposed to communicating with her students face-to-face.
‘I hope you’re as excited as I am for those clean whiteboards, the freshly waxed floors, and, best of all, the bright faces of our students — in person,’ Biden said over the summer.’
The first lady has pushed to return to class despite soaring COVID cases across the US, with the Delta variant blamed for the latest surge.
Debates on whether to send students back to class or continue with remote learning have also reheated in recent weeks, with Mrs Biden firmly in the in-person learning camp.
Jill Biden return to teaching at her full-time position at the Northern Virginia Community College, in Alexandria. She is pictured above touring back to school sessions in Delaware.
Jill Biden has taught writing composition at the community college since 2009
The First Lady said teaching in-person was better than teaching over zoom. Pictured, Biden given an English lesson to student in Glendale Middle School, in Utah, in May
Jill Biden goes back to school
First Lady Jill Biden will go back to teaching full-time at Northern Virginia Community College:
- As per the college’s rules, the first lady will be fully vaccinated and wear a mask when at the campus
- She will commute with a motorcade from the White House
- She will be on campus every Tuesday and Thursday and hold office hours
- Biden teaches College Composition I and Composition Readiness II
- The first lady has been a faculty member since 2009
- She will be accompanied by members of the Secret Service
Biden’s return will come after she and President Joe Biden return from a Labor Day weekend trip to their Delaware home.
She has also recovered from a foot injury she got after stepping on an object during a trip to Hawaii in July.
She has taught at the community college for about 12 years.
He return to classroom comes as educators, administrators, health experts, and elected officials across the country are butting heads on how classes should resume amid the continuing surge of COVID-19 due to the delta variant.
While the Northern Virginia Community College does not require students to be vaccinated, it does require all staff members to be fully vaccinated and that everyone on campus wear a mask.
Mrs Biden will be teaching adults aged 18 and up, amid a separate argument over whether making young children wear masks at school is damaging to their development.
Almost all schools offer medical and religious exemptions to vaccine mandates, however those must be approved prior to on-campus arrival, according to University Business.
While colleges have issued their new rules, debates continue over how to handle in-person learning for younger students, specifically those under the age of 12 who cannot get the vaccines yet.
And educators continue to worry about returning to full, in-person teaching.
Jill Biden pictured with a student in Christa McAuliffe School, in New Hampshire, in March
Biden spoke about writing to students behind desk shields in Salt Lake CIty in May
The community college requires all faculty members to be vaccinated and wear masks
A Ed Source survey in California found that 64 per cent of teachers admitted to being hesitant about returning to school.
But the survey also noted that teachers were finding that students who returned to school have had their motivation to learn and pay attention dulled due to staying at home the previous year.
Critics of home learning say children living in poverty are most at risk of falling behind, as they may not have a good internet connection to attend online classes, and are less likely to have a parent who is able to support them with learning.
Yet it returning to school has not come without incident, as an elementary school teacher in Marin County, California, infected 12 of her students with COVID-19 last week.
The unvaccinated teacher felt symptomatic but continued to work for two days before receiving a positive test result.
Occasionally, the teacher read aloud unmasked to the class despite requirements by the school to be masked indoors at all times.
A report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on the incident said the incident shows how highly transmissible the Delta variant is and recommended that all teachers and school staff members be vaccinated against COVID-19 to avoid passing the disease onto children who are too young to receive the shots.
Of the 24 kids in the classroom, 22 were tested. In total, 12 children received a positive COVID-19 result.
Following the teacher’s test result, 12 of 24 kids in the teacher’s class tested positive, including all five children who sat in the front row (above)
CDC authors say the findings show how infectious the Indian ‘Delta’ variant is and recommend that teachers be vaccinated to prevent outbreaks. Pictured: graph shows how quickly the infected teacher spread the virus to other students and their parents
More than half of the kids who tested positive, or seven, sat in the first two rows, meaning they were closest to the teacher.
All five kids who sat in the front row tested positive and four had symptoms, making up two-thirds of all children with symptoms.
The positive results came despite the desks being placed six feet apart and the children wearing masks while indoors.
What’s more, all classrooms were equipped with portable high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) air filters, and doors and windows were left open.
Despite the risks, some experts continue to push against mask mandates for classroom with young children.
This week, Vinay Prasad, a UC San Francisco professor of epidemiology, warned against masking children younger than 12, saying it could hinder their language, social and cultural development skills.
‘No scientific consensus exists about the wisdom of mandatory-masking rules for schoolchildren. The World Health Organization, which recommends that children 12 and older wear masks under the same circumstances that adults do, specifically advises against masking kids age 5 and younger,’ Prasad wrote in The Atlantic.
Prasad said that while concerns of children not being able to breathe behind masks was a bit exaggerated, so too is the idea that masks provide major benefits to combat COVID in the classroom.
He criticized the effectiveness of most masks, as prevailing research has shown that the popular blue surgical masks do little to contain aerosols.
Two out of every five parents oppose all masks in schools, no matter the child’s vaccination status, and just under half of U.S. K-12 parents want all students masked in the classroom, according to new survey from Gallup.
A small number – 11 percent – say mandates should only apply to unvaccinated students.
Similarly, 48 percent of parents want all teachers and staff masked, while 38 percent want no teachers masked and 13 percent want mandates only for unvaccinated teachers.
In Florida, the debate over mask mandates has grown particularly heated, as Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration strips funding from districts that institute mask requirements.
DeSantis stripped funding even though a Florida state judge ruled DeSantis’ mandate ban unconstitutional. The governor promised to appeal the ruling, expecting that it will be overturned.
Meanwhile, President Biden’s administration is investigating five state bans, as Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona says that they may constitute civil rights violations for students with disabilities.
The debate goes on as the coronavirus continues to surge.
The CDC reported about 161,387 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and more than 1,500 new deaths.