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tv   Education HHS Secretaries Testify on School Reopening During COVID-19...  CSPAN  September 30, 2021 9:53pm-12:17am EDT

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education secretary cardona and health and human services secretary javier becerra testified on schools reopening during the covid-19 pandemic at a senate health education labor and pensions committee hearing. senators from both sides of the aisle questioned the secretaries on several issues including mask
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mandates and schools as well as the availability and affordability of rapid covid-19 tests. education secretary cardona told the lawmakers we are going to rely on our health experts who've guided us to the point we are reopening schools across the country for our students. this hearing runs two hours and 20 minutes.
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[inaudible conversations] good morning. we are going to get started. we have a number of votes this morning and a good hearing so we want to get going. the senate health education labor and pensions committee will please come to order. today we are watching a hearing with health and human services javier becerra emma secretary of education cardona on how we can help schools across the country as they work to safely reopen learning. the ranking member and i will have an opening statement and introduce the witnesses and after they give their testimony, senators will have five minutes for a round of questions. while we are able to have this
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open for in person attendance, live video is available on the committee website at help dot senate .gov and if you are in need of accommodation with closed captioning, you can reach out to the committee to the congressional accessibility services. this pandemic has been incredibly hard on students and families and educators. for over a year many students were not able to see their teachers, friends or counselors or coaches. students with disabilities couldn't get the support they needed. many students from families with low incomes couldn't get nutritious school meals and students without internet at home were left struggling to keep up with the shift to remote learning. every students learning was disrupted in some way m and educators making their already challenging jobsd even tougher. i've heard from so many families in washington state about the challenges and how devastating
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this has been. my goal since the start of the pandemic has been to get students back in the classroom safely for learning and i know that it's been shared by the members of the committee on both sides of i the aisle. and while no one thinks our work is done we have fought to make the goal a reality by working to get relief straight to schools over multiple relief bills in 2020 and critically in the american rescue plan last march. this funding has allowed schools to take steps to keep students safe by providing masks and tests and improved ventilation and keep students connected by making sure they have access to technology and the internet, to accelerate their learning light likeoffering summer learning and high-quality tutoring and to helpte them navigate this incredibly tough time, like increasing mental health resources. ..inta
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>> 1800 school closures the school year related to covid outbreaks children haveee been learning once again and parentsov have attended is the need to take care of their kids. families are exhausted. everyone wants to get back to the classroom and stay there.. but to get there we have to continue to make students safe. more than a years worth of data. public health experts like cdc and local health departments have made clear what works. math to all students when
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necessary to keep them safe work administration has done for common sense public health measures is so important has been relief to have leaders in charge is that example that public health and safety should not be partisan but part of what you do to protect yourself and protect others and they wish every official took the same approach unfortunately to any parts of the country to keep students and educators and community safe have beenld politicized some itself that are promoting basic steps like wearing masks some republican governors and state legislators have been trying to outlaw them. schools had been pushed to the brink and instead of giving
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help they arepa threatening school funding, having mask requirements and undermining efforts to get peoplee vaccinated. not only ignoring or denying the fact in the pandemic to make the nile a badge of honor. let's be clear there's nothing honorable about putting kids and educators and their families at risk to score political points. the risk is real new data from cdc confirm school without mask requirements are three and a half times more likely to have a covid outbreak. to let the mask requirements are half of that without them. anyone truly concerned about public health and safety there should be no question about putting that real-world data into practice. this is not a game to those leaders who were threatened and harassed for doing the
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right thing. is not a game to students who want to bee able to go to school without contracting a deadly disease that could hurt them or a family member who is immunocompromised or assembling who was too young yet to be vaccinated. is not a game to parents who want to be able to put their kids on the school bus without worrying they are putting their child at risk. there counting on policymakers to take this seriously. there is a lot of perspective on covid-19 but i all of us can send a message that the basic public health measures help kids stay safe and learn in school should not be political but american. we still have a lot of work ahead to get schools and students to the pandemic and we got to do it together. everyone eligible who is not gone vaccinated she get their
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shots. states and localities need to keep following the signs and do what works to keep kids safe and learning in school. the biden administration is to continue to build on the progress made so far to promote vaccinations, increase testing capacity and make sure schools and districts have that guidance and support they need to spend those funds and the work will not end when the pandemic does we all have to work together to repair the damage covid-19 has done, address students academic social and mental health needs and help schools build back stronger that means addressing the sharp drop ins enrollment with this pandemic and the sharp rise in the mental health issues t among kids and the fact it has that many students back significantly particularly students whose families are low income or students of color english learners and
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students with disabilities that also means addressing the inequities ofnt systemic racism and has made the pandemic so much harder on so many students. today i look forward to hearing from both witnesses on these challenges and working with them and with the president to help students, parents and educators across the country get to the crisis. that i will turn it over to the ranking member for his remarks. >> thank you madame chairman. good morning let's start was some good news. for the most part children are back in public schools that is not really new for private schools which mostly stayed open during the highs and lows of the pandemic. that public schools have now taken steps to ensure students and teachers can get back to school back safely these are based on lessons learned from schools that stayed open during the pandemic. for example a studio out of duke university looking at
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north carolina school district shows in person learning can have minimal transmissions of covid by being thoughtful and having a plan and then to take commonsense steps to make teachers and students safe. more good news thanks to operation warp speed most are vaccinated although it needs to be higher now the boosters are available in higher settings with the pfizer vaccine i hope teachers will get the booster as well. hopefully individuals who receive the modern a and johnson & johnson will have information on boosters soon. now we have vaccines for children 12 and up. to have the data and a lower dose of the vaccine for children age fiveat to 11 and
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submitted that data for fda review. we have six effective treatments for those who get covid and more treatments are on the way. unless of course this congress can pass legislation that poses price control and more treatment and cures to be developed that vaccines and therapeutics will be our way out. we have seen the v power of these vaccines and treatments and then to turn the tide on the pandemic we encourage everyone who is eligible for us vaccine or booster shot to get it and then the
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administration needs to do a better job to get those therapeutics approved to work with the industry to increase supply of therapeuticss that ework that we are here today to hear from the biden administration secretary hhs and apartment of education welcome back. it is a national priority and i agree. and it falls squarely in your hands to develop the federal response to help state and local leaders have the tools they need to keep schools open and students and teachers safe. and then to live up the committee both made privately and publicly to be responsive to my oversight request. on august 25th is a both letters asking a series of
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questions we received from students, parents, teachers, scl administrators in public health officials from my state from the people across the country as well asm many colleagues on both sides of the aisle in congress. i received a thoroughly inadequate response yesterday. less than 24 hours before the hearing. gentlemen, congressional oversight is not an option. these questions were simple. there were no tricks in fact this letter was aimed at helping you inform this committee what was happening around the country as schools were already in the process of altering students back in the classroom. and then almost two months into the school year so it isn't a back to school hearing it is a back in school hearing. in many places in our
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country, we shared goals as to help school districts stay open. which is why i sent a letter in august and asked about the 97.$8 billion of testing money made available to hhs. to learn how it was being administered, house schools can access this massive amount of money and of headstart has access to the money and how we were accounting for the testing needs private schools. of course the schools are still asking about testing. it seems you have failed to communicate to them how to access these dollars. i asked about the supply chain and your testing strategies because people still cannot access rapid test when they are the stock and people go back to waiting days for testing results. you have squandered that means
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for the capacity last year. i also asked about the $190 billion. in funding for schools and by 92 percent of that money still remains unspent. you cannot have it both ways. either the money was urgently needed and spent quickly or schools don't need the money and it should be reallocated to other priorities tied to covid. this is not a slush fund for unrelated priorities and future needs. i also ask for snaps on —- a snapshot about infections and big breakthrough cases so we can have a clear picture of what is happening on the ground. be sure to have easy access to that data. there's no reason not to respond in a timely manner to share with me in this committee. i asked about the availability of therapeutics for children to help ensure children who health got to get covid have access to life-saving treatments and parents and
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health professionals know about those in advance. i asked about the scientific evidence behind masks because the more you can share sound science and data the more you can use that to persuade people that science exist. when you're pounding the table quite frankly you are losing the argument which brings me to the any appropriate rebuke of the civil rights law by the administration which further politicizes the issue and ignores the importance of state and local policy decision-making. i i believe your civil rights investigation that banned masks is counterproductive on the theory behind it is unwise and the potential for abuse for the bipartisan civil rights laws is as great harm to all of us. 's if you want to use the bully pulpit to encourage masks or to condemn those who have banned mask mandates am
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those preposterous series and the power that you have to bully those political opponents into submission is a a step too far. i turned you for your agencies help for clear and consistent answers to questions for my constituents people around the country and more importantly my colleagues who will vote what that pathway is in the future waiting for over a month for a reply is not acceptableon this is the first time either of you have appeared before our committee since confirmed if you are not going to respond to oversight letters in a timely fashion we cannot wait 66 months before this committee again to answer critical questions from the american people maybe we should just ask you to appear before us once a month until the pandemic is over to make sure we are getting responses to these and other vital
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questions in a timely fashion. the reason i raise the importance of her oversight work it helps to inform us where to goan legislatively if we transition into the following winter students and teachers will be spendingns more time you'll likely seed more cases of covid through and other respiratory illnesses and we will determine how to manage a potential surgeon the demand for testing and treatments that will come withn the holiday season we need a clear straightforward strategy of what must happen in the next 60 or 90 days and beyond some americans don't have to spend another holiday season apart from their friends and family. last week some of my colleagues and i wrote to ask about the administration strategy and i hope to get a more timely response from him than from the two of you. i need to take a few moments
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the reckless spending and tax and spend agenda of the partisan majority is threatening to tear apart the congress and the country. but they are just three seats in the house only the vice president breaks the tie in the senate republicans get the role chair and republicans the role of ranking is not the moment for grand sweeping legislation it is unconscionable in fact issues of this committee's jurisdiction propose to spendes $723 billion on these priorities without a hearing or a markup where we can offer amendments or consulting anyone and about the real world the fact that these proposals with small a mom-and-pop shop providers on
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the cost of state oversight with community colleges if you succeed do that partisan legislation they may no longer be able to agree on higher education or childcare or national service or even public health. bipartisanship means getting some, not all of the wish list it means having to accept the other side may have some good ideas we john easy compromises here. we work ideas out so that more, not less than elected members o of congress and the representatives can say yes. it sometimes slow it's frequently messy that it brings about lasting change that is supported by the american people. that is not the goal i don't know why any of us are here. i yield back.
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>> thank you senator i will now introduce the witness these we will hear from the secretary of hhs and secretary of education thank you both for joining us today i'm very pleased to welcome you back before this committee i look forward to your testimony we will begin with you secretary the sarah. >> chairman and ranking member it's a pleasure to be before you along with secretary cardona hhs the health and safety of our students and families and school personnel is our top priority. always not just during a pandemic covid has robbed so much from our children a safe and comprehensive environment in a normal school year with time with mentors and friends for some the cost has been even greater 20000 children of
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last appearance and one and a half million have lost a caregiver the numbers only tell part of the story is the empty chair at the dinner table the open seat at the bleachers and the quiet homes and crowded hospitals not having the chance to say goodbye that's the real story. to her children to make the classroom a safe and is nurturing as possible every step we take and take together a can save lives at his her mindset at hhs thank you to the robust funding from congress our department has made critical investments of covid mitigation to help schools stay open safely. we have learned a great deal in 18 months, vaccination, masking testing a increase hygiene all can significantly reduce covid-19 transmissions when layered appropriately and make no mistake vaccinated americans is the most effective prevention strategy
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forr schools i call your attention to chart number one. while the covid-19 way for children has increased nationwide, data from august shows children and acyl adolescents in low vaccinated states are hospitalized four times the rate of high vaccination states the lesson is undeniable. as you can see from chart number two covid is attacking childrenni at least the vaccinated population even greater and those with low vaccination rates that is my this administration is taking several steps it will require 300,000 educators at headstart to be vaccinated are cdc is working with partners toea broadcast the importance of teachers and school personnel hhs is also correlating public education campaign that is set
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more than 14000 trusted community voices to remind everyone that vaccinations are safe and effective the fda affirms it will follow the signs on covid-19 vaccines for children younger than 12 agency is workingns round-the-clock i am hopeful that pediatric covid vaccines will become available in the coming months for children between five and 11 years of age and i age is working to get parents and care providers the data they need to make good decisions for their kids today and a long-term. and thanks to the american rescue plan community health centers have administered half a million covid vaccines between 12 and 18 a euros conducting 2500 vaccination events at school-based connects. mobile vans and public clinics. testing is another part of our
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strategy. in april hhs provided $10 billion for screening testing to help schools reopened safely and more than 2 billion to scale hd up testig in underserved populations. we partner with the department of defense to make $650 million of investments. great schools and underserved congregant settings. masking has always shown external results on september 2h cdc published data that schools without requirements of masks were three.five times more likely to have a covid outbreak and schools with the in school mask requirement. s the pandemic not only takes five spent devastating the kids mental health and we are not waiting to act in may hhs announced to expand access to mental health care by integrating telehealth services and pediatric care in make the largest investment ever in mental health and substance abuse but has two states and in august the substance abuse administration
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announced additional grants for theug nation's youth this is just a snapshot of our efforts over the past six months work with parents and teens in georgia and with the central valley and that with a faith leaders health workers and new orleans madame chair i've seen firsthand the resilience ever people they are counting on us to keep their children and as translators healthy that their future is not a guest or a guarantee. it is an achievement. i appreciate your support to this crisis i'm committed to working with all of you to achieve the healthy future for our children and what they deserve. eathank you. >> good morning chair murray.
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i'm honored to be alongside my colleague and friend speaking of the critical work of safely reopening our nation schools for in person learning president biden made it clear on his first day that getting austin safely into the classroom as a top priority that has been my priority as well so i am proud the vast majority of americans 50 million students are in school full-time learning in person. schools are the heartbeat of communities they are like second families to students and staff they are thrilled to be together again and in many areas schools are the only place where students have access to stand laboratories music and theater gymnasium social services and nutritious
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meals especially in the pandemic schools also empower parents and caregivers to get back to work to access the vital services that they need themselves. lasteg week i visited five states in 11 cities during the doe return to school road trip i saw the sheer joy at students and educators feel about being back together my team and i saw students reconnecting with friends and band practice on the basketball court in the icclassrooms and yes even in the cafeteria. the biden administration has worked hard to help make that a reality schools are the most effective means of ensuring students receive the academic social, emotional and mental health support they need to thrive first the american rescue plan has been a
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rshistorically fine our education system did not serve all students well before the pandemic particularly students of color and low income backgrounds $130 billion arp is empowering states, school districts and educators to safely reopened schools and address education and inequities that covid-19 highlighted and in many cases made worse that these funds are just the first step with the department of education we are supporting districts and to share best practices we t release multiple resources with conversations with leaders to provide tailored support we spend a lot of time listening our work is far from over we have seen great progress when the biden administration took office 23 percent of ka schools are toperating fully remote by
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may, just 2 percent were remote i'm proud to say will be launching a data dashboard soon to see a truck the country in real time currently 96 percent of school districts are fully reopen for in person learning only a handful are utilizing hybrid or remote models to contain the spread of covid-19. while we must stay vigilant and proud to say despite an increase in a variant of covid-19 about one month before school started america is back-to-school moving forward will promote health and safety in schools to support social and emotional needs and accelerate students academic learning. health and safety we know mitigation strategies work the dataar proves that we cannot risk another year shuttered classrooms and canceled sports performances or extracurricular activities we
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over to our students and we know it to our families to follow the science and implement the science -based mitigation strategies not just physical distancing regarding our students social and emotional wellness it must be factoredde into the learning school districts are learning their students needs to hire social workers in school psychologist to implement new mental health support. finally we areh assisting school districts in their work to address the loss of instructional time i can tell you that learning in front of a computer does not take over in person learning using arp funds to invest in tutoring and extended learning time and much more. despite the adversity we face i am more optimistic about the future of education than ever before i think teachers face unprecedented challenges with determination and creativity
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and the and wavering love for their students i've seen families come together to support the education of the children and education leaders make tough decisions knowing they will not always be popular but they are putting the students needs first and i have seen students flourish and it is our inspiration with the department of education. states are using arp to build back better, the education system before march 2020 is not difficult we can and we must do better. thank you and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much we will began a round of five-minute questions. secretary it has been a challenge over the last year and a half to keep family safe especially when it some states and localities are following the science and public health
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guidance into put in place safety measures. in fact in some schools basic measures to keep students safe are prohibited by extreme republicans with masks and vaccines. recent survey shows those needed ventilation and classrooms vaccinated teachers social distancing masking and testing needs to be in place to feel safe sending their children to school in person but these are not happening consistently for our families. i think it would be helpful for parents and families to hear from each of you the following, when should a child wear a mask? what additional measures should schools take to keep kids safe? secretary? >> thank you for the question and we share that goal to make q sure we're building confidence in her school so parents feel
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comfortable sending all children. we have a years worth of experience doing this already. not only at the state level but before we had vaccines and that testing protocols and one years worth of experience, we were safely reopening schools because we follow what works. it's important as educators we work really closely with healthth experts like we are doing at the department with hhs and cdc to make sure we are listening to medical experts are making decisions. masks prevent the spread of covid-19 and in school which we are seeing across the country it's critically important that masks are being utilized the promotion it is critically important to reduce the spread and o make sure the illness is not serious and they do contract covid-19 quarantining when they do have
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covid or exposed until they are able to get tested is critically important. our schools must be safe from learning we have to make sure we are communicating what we are doing to keep students safe. it is our responsibility to follow the science as my colleague has shown in places that do follow the mitigation strategy, we can keep students in the classroom without disruption is our responsibility to keep students and staff safe. >> madame chair the evidence has spoken. the science is clear. vaccines are the safest and most effective route to keep our kids safe even if you are under the age of 12 so important for everyone who can vaccinate to keep everyone safe masks the arizona study shows clearly those that don't use masks are three.five times more likely to create an outbreak than those that do.
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it is common sense 50 years ago someor people protested using seatbelts me know how safe and effective they are same thing with vaccines, masks, social distancing, better ventilation, that are hygiene, we know what works. it's common sense and we tell each and every parent please use common sense don't let anyone stop you from protecting your kids. >> sincerely days of this pandemic i've been very focused to make sure testing is widely available as a tool to prevent and respond to outbreaks. i'm frustrated at the trump administration to articulate a testing strategy to communicate clearly and effectively require pushed very hard to make progress. i know the biden administration tried to fix early issues with testing.
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butx i am troubled by that continuing testing challenges which include some schools not having access right now. it would be part of safely opening the schools so what specific steps is the federal government taking to make sure tests are accessible and what guidance is provided to make sure they are being used effectively quick. >> madamevi chair, first, i want to make clear there is a supply of test kits available in a certain types of tests so that distribution has difficulty to get to certain places but generally speaking nationwide, there is sufficient total testing capacity across the nation to meet our needs and this
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includes for supply chain constraints to meet the demand we have seen in the last few months demand increase month over month 300 through 650 percent and it has been a demand that has not been evenly spread where people say it is a shortage. there is sufficient supply is just getting to the right
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place. >> again i welcome the secretaries this morning. secretary you had an enterprise in the us government that incorporates many off the agencies that drive covid policy. let me ask you, are you supportive of a mandate for covid vaccine. >> thank you for the question this administration if you asked me the question for human services parents the
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believe they are vaccinated and what children are taught with k-12?
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i do believe schools are adequately able to engage students and parents when you men on —- you like mandates for those 12 and over. >> and to protect students and staff to continue with in person learning. >> does that mean you approve to a a federal mandate children 12 and over and k-12 the federal mandate requiring all to be vaccinated? >> i think the decision about mandating should be at the state and local level and the efforts being made too promote vaccines and that's where the highest are less interruptions of learning and what he was
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telegraphed into the country is get ready so we will vaccinatee after the individual
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second dose. there is no clarifier in this that then you will see so one of the challenges we have today is that the communications message is so muddled the american people don't know what to believe or what not to believe. in large measure for the
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scientific data was available what if it did not come out quick. >> i think we share a bipartisan believe that we try from beginning to followto the signs . secretary come i'm concerned taxpayers and lawmakers will never know what the $191 billion paid for according to the information received from the department of education, k-12 schools spent $18 billion at the end of march and with the gao but the track funding and how they are used to address pandemic threlated needs what have you
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done the funds that are that to help them recover and those that they reengage students and with school communities and this is the path to recovery from the pandemicc and the impact on children and we do have the data dashboard and we have continued to have information on that and an outreach team that works directly with the state that only for what they are using the funds on to share best practices. and then to assess what the needs that we are not only assessing in terms of instruction in that in other
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places that i visited. i'm completely confident and i trust table but then children's needs first andec then to drive higher than ever before.
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. most had to adapt to online instruction. so many challenges that we've read about. individual education plans which as you know well are required by the i-d-e-a act from years ago, often require specific therapies and specific services. so here is the question. can you tell us what guidance and resources the department is providing to states and local school districts to get students with disabilities the services and the therapies that they need to set them up for success? >> thank you for that question. it is clear that our students with disables were greatly impacted during the pandemic and i recall stories of -- i recall conversations with parents who shared with me the impact that
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their child not being able to access inperson learning had not only on their learning but on their entire family with regard to work. it was much more difficult for many students with disabilities to learn using a laptop. i recall a mother who wrote a book and called it "there is a rainbow" and at the end of the rainbow in this book was the school reopening. her child as autism. and the remote learning, as much as educators did the very best, it wasn't the same. so we need to place special emphasis on our students with disabilities and their families. to make sure that they are and one that is assessing where the children are now. now they were march 2020. we require states to ensure iep's arere being updated this school year and many understand this important responsibility in the spring
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so they can start the year off where the children are now. and to update the critically important furthermore and then to provide handbooks and special attention given to supporting students with disabilities and educators that serve students with disabilities with training and helping them have more opportunities. >> and on behavioral health, obviously a lot to talk about. let me make a quick reference to the question what resources are now available for teachers and school administrators to support students mental well-being we have made the
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largest investments of mental health and substance abuse disorder in history of these programs because of the american rescue plan and others past i am pleased to say close to $1 billion has gone out so far to support the mental health services that are needed throughoutha our country about $5 billion for substance abuse disorders since most is administered and run through the states and the speed over to the local governments and the schoolsde because you pass the american rescue plan and we have to do more. >> are you familiar with an israeli study that had two.5 million patients and found the vaccinated group was seven times more likely to be
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infected with covid have those who got covid naturally. >> you might want to travel the country are you a doctor or medical doctor quick. >> i worked over 30 years on health policy. >> you're not a medical doctor to have a science degree? that you travel the country and those that had covid so
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that you presume somehow to tell over 100 million americans who survived covid that we have no right to determine her own medical care? and that you may be on high? >> and ignoring the sciencesi and the vast preponderance of scientific studies dozens and dozens and even the cdc that you ignore history and after
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hearing that millions of people do you want to apologize to the 100 million americans and have immunity and yet hold him down to vaccinate them you want to call them flat her thirst?
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>>e we follow the facts and the science of hhs and dozens of dozens of studies they show robust immunity from getting a disease naturally. the cdc says if you have measles and immunity you have to be vaccinated. we have no scientific background no scientific andegrees with those but then to if i have 100 employees to put me out of business with the
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700,000-dollar fine if i don't obey what you think is a science. do you understand his presumptuous for us to be on —- for you to be in charge of all of science? you have heard of at second opinion i can i ask my doctors opinion the science is clear it is as good as the vaccine the israel study shows a better this is an argument about the vaccine is an argument for making people make a decision already have immunity were not willing to consider natural immunity? as every study that is out there on covid.
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>> and and with their natural immunity and just ignoring it because we want submission we want everyone to submit and do as you're told and with a large body of scientific evidence and combined together if you are unlucky enough to get it'r think of the doctors and nurses and orderlies and there was no vaccine for a year and a half ago they took people who risk their lives
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and then people like you are ever get enough to say you can no longer work in a hospital we will force you and that's an arrogance. >> . >> thank you so much chair mary thank you for being here today to discuss this issue. and as the mom of a young man i am particularly grateful for senator casey's questions about what we are doing to help students is not just with the education plan is met but it iss also true just as you
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pointed out, that often school is the only place some of the students canoo get services and in some cases that is therapy speech and language and when schools are presented from taking public health measures , these are often the most at risk for severe complications from covid-19 and just want to think senator casey and everything you're doing for children with disabilities. so in addition to the teacher shortage as has been discussed schools in new hampshire are struggling from social workers and the strivers and custodians some schoolcu districts are addressing the gaps in various ways including hiring —- hiring bonuses to
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help get kids to school. secretary, how can school districts use the elementary and secondary school really funding to meet the staffing needs to keep schools open and provide essential support for students? >> thank you for the question and comments about the importance of that they are in our schools and we should be prioritizing that. as we shared about ensuring that we address the workforce gaps that means we have enough staff and then to pay a salary that is competitive. people have options. and i can tell you firsthand that my own children's experience is influence whether or not they can get bus drivers to take them to extracurricular activities. and if we are serious about reopening schools not only in the classroom and extracurricular activities are
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getting to school on time. we have to make sure we are addressing these workforce gaps. there are more funds now available to address that. we also have to address and pipeline programs that the educators have access to programs i am really excited about the opportunity with a build back better agenda to make sure we are investing in our profession and to pay livable wages and create pipelines with incentives to go into get the teaching credential to serve as special education teachers. it is all hands on deck we have the right policy and need to make sure were making bold decisions. and due to covid-19 school closures last year so we are five months behind where they
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would typically be in four reading.hind in if not address these gaps in learning will have a long-lasting negative effect on the lifelong success theng students. how can schools most effectively identify the gaps and how does the department of education show that schools have what they need to do this quick. >> in the last year and a half, academic gaps that remote learning doesn't compare to in person learning and the reality is some students face more than others it exacerbated the opportunity gaps that existed. we recognize this and part of the return to school roadmap is engaging in social and emotional well-being but addressing the lack of instruction tomo the pandemic we really strategies and then to addresss the impact as its own
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guidance document and in addition to the three handbooks we have to address learning loss it was a lack of access instruction. we have handbooks out there. more importantly looking to see what they are doing. summer school programs tripled in size and the programs that are happening because of the american rescue plan. they are working on that for educators across the country. >> madame chair i realize i am a little over but i want to point out the department is very helpful to school districts in new hampshire . . . . does not confer immunity.
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that goes against the science. some of the other remarks, perhaps not so much. but on that, absolutely. so, secretary becerra, if you can take that back to the cdc, i would appreciate that. i think that we can agree on this. would you accept that the primary purpose of the school is to educate a child? >> yes. >> and you know my concern is during the pandemic, against science, public schools were much more likely to close. i'm looking at data from -- by the way, if we are going to look at what empirically works, if we
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are going to follow the evidence and the primary goal is to educate a child, i think we have to look more broadly than to just say use a mask. i'm looking from the education services ief dot e.g. .gov and it's showing me that nationally, public schools only 47% were open in january of last year. catholic schools, 89% and private schools, 92%. there's also this enrollment from the public schools, even though they were being kept shut on the insistence of some unions, against the science, against the clear recommendation of among other things, the american academy of pediatrics. there's been a hostility among democrats, frankly, and among the administration's regards to charter schools. seeing how charter schools actually -- private vouchers and
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private schools actually give an alternative to a parent who is otherwise locked into a system that will not literally educate the child. why is this hostility towards the alternative towards the parents? >> thank you,en senator. i do agree with you. school reopening wasas criticaly important for all students across the country, and i'm very that across the country, our schoolsrn are opend -- >> and extended a period of time when the children lost a significant amount of their education. and by the way, this is about social justice,er because it was the minority child in the inner-city schools that did worse by far. with some sayinghe that seven months of learning was lost among african-american children on -- on urban children and seven months for the low income and six months for the african-american child. and so, why are we holding our parents and our children prisoners to a system that
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ignore their educational needs when the science shows the schools could safely reopen? >> thank you for that question. i remember last spring and even before that working on reopening schools and what i can tell you is those schools where predominantly black and brown schools attend were woefully underfunded and they didn't have the funding to address the ventilation systems, to address some of the basic needs -- >> sec. cardona, you need tohe tell me the inner-city parochial school, that some philanthropist hadd opened up for these childrn that that was an older facility and they didn't have similar problems and somehow attempt to adapt? i just don't believe that. >> willing sharing with you is my experience talking to superintendents visiting schools and with ventilation systems that were not touched for 20 years with class size is over
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25, 26. we make sure that the schools are safe for students and staff and many of the same families were sharinge their concern abot schools not being reopened. >> let me ask you -- >> i'm almost out of time. i apologize. by the way, my wife is the chair of a board at a charter school. they opened their gymnasium and changed the lunch room and madee it different for those children that are disproportionately minorities. why shouldn't the parents have the choice to take their child elsewhere, if she decides maybe they have a lousy ventilation system but they have a good ventilation system, and so i'm going to take my child to the private school with a good ventilation system so that my child doesn't lose seven months of education this year? why should she not have that choice? >> senator, it's my belief all children should have access to a safe school and one where all can succeed. it's important all schools be givene the tools and resources -
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>> let me finish with this. if they are to have access and defined science demand a school close, why would that access not include the ability to take dollars that would go to the public school that are not open, thatot are not there for the ki, to take the child to a school that is open? canot you tell me should that parent, yes or no, should that parent have the rightol to take their child? >> it requires more than a yes or no. but i will say we have been working closely with educators including unions to safely reopen schools. and today, all of america's students have the opportunity to learn in person safely because of the work we've done together. >> a terrible loss of educational opportunity t for those that are most vulnerable in our society and frankly the perception is that it's a do to teachers unions not because of putting children first. i yelled back. >> thank you. the vote haso been called and im going to go vote and return
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right away. the next three senators in order are senators smith, romney and senatorur baldwin. >> thank you, madam chair and thank you very much, secretary cardona and secretary becerra for joining us today. to be with you. i'mec going to direct my questis to secretary becerra. mr. secretary, i applaud the biden administration's commitment to keeping our children safe in school through vaccinations, through masks, through ventilation and through testing. and this includes the administration's recent announcement that they will ramp up the production of rapid covid-19 tests and purchase $2 billion worth of rapid tests, which can detect, as we know, up to 98% of cases that are infectious with covid. so, rapid in-home tests are a huge benefit to parents because they can get a quick test results and so they know whether they can send their students to
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school after they've been exposed to covid in the classroom, and is also a huge help to schools that are frankly i've heard overwhelmed in some cases by asking educators to administer tests and to do contact tracing, and on top of everything else that they are doing. rapid tests are a better alternative than lab-based tests that can be frustrating to minnesota parents and students as they are pulled out of school and activities are put on hold for the day while they are waiting, three days while waiting forle results. and to believe both senator murray and senator kane have raisedai this issue as we know, unfortunately, rapid tests are difficult to get a hold of right now. so here's my question, secretary becerra. some policy experts believe that by reclassifying rapid covid-19 tests as a public health tool, rather than as a medical device, that this r could help unlock a
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greater supply of tests while also reducing the price of those tests. so, could you talk to us about how the administration is thinking through this recommendation? >> senator, thank you for the question. and i know this is on the minds of many people, not just here in this chamber, but at home as well. as i mentioned before in responding to some of the previous questions, we have the tests. it's getting them to the right source at the right time has been difficult. we are now coordinating far greater with our state and local partners. whereas before it was at the point of contact, where the test would be made for this type of tests. what we are trying to do now is coordinate far better how this is done. what i will tell you is between the money that was made available through the supplemental appropriation that you passed and the money from the arp, we've been able to provide substantial funds,
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$10 billion in one case, 2 billion as you mentioned more recently. another 2 billion was made available to make sure we are reaching everyone. can we coordinate better? we are going to try to do that with our state and local partners. we at the federal government don't have the capacity to be the administrators of the tests, but we can work in partnership with those onen the ground to go where the tests are needed. >> and do you think that there's kean opportunity to think about reclassifying these tests? i mean,, how do you -- >> that's certainly something we can take a look at and i can get back as quickly as possible, talk to the team to find out if that's something we can consider. >> thank you. i would appreciate that. i think there's an opportunity given the high level of accuracy, and just another tool that the administration could have as you are working to ramp up these tests. >> we've been using every tool you give us and we will look at this as well. >> thank you very much. i also want to ask you a little bit about the work that we need
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to do to support students with disabilities, particularly in the context of what has been happening. i should have said, secretary ocardona, this is directed to you. pardon me. this is about students with disabilities as we navigate through what has been such a difficult time in schools. and in particular, i want to quickly highlight a couple of aspects of support for students with disabilities that we are seeing in my home state of minnesota. there's many great examples, the recently we've seen educators from morehead public school in gnorthwest minnesota they shard with me how they've been able to make important investments for their students using american rescue plan dollars, thanks to american rescue plan dollars. so, secretary cardona, could you quickly and the few seconds i have discussed the department's approach to supporting education for students with disabilities and mitigating the learning loss they've experienced?
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>> thank you for the question and for the support of the great programs there thanks to the arp. we are back. kids are back in school. that's the best thing we canan o for the students with disabilities and all students. they are back in the classroom with their teachers, their peers. so the best thing we can do for students with disabilities is the same for all students, get them back in the classroom with teachers that love and want to support them.ca however, with students with disabilities thatn might have interrupted learning, it's important we monitor where they are today and not where they were in march, 2020. and make sure we are using the american rescue plan funds to provide enough resources and enough support personnel to give the students what they need today a and to make sure the families are still supported as the students transition back. >> thank you very much, secretary cardona. next we have senator romney. >> thank you, madam chair. [laughter] secretary becerra, i'm going to clear up a social media rumor that you spent most of your time outside of washington, d.c. as the majority of your time
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spent, the great majority spent in washington, d.c.? >> in many ways, unfortunately, yes.or as i still have a home in california ass well. my wife is in california. >> spend your time here. it's great. let meif turn to another topic. i would concur with senator the, who is concerned about natural acquired immunity with regards to covid-19. i was disappointed at your response. i expected you to see one of two things. one, the science is clear that inoculation adds to lung protection against covid-19 and he was wrong about the study ocdescribed and you said every single study said the immunity is better than vaccination or as good as. or i expect you to say look, maybe it's the same, but we can't determinemu whether people have had covid necessarily or not and therefore we are out of abundance of caution recommend they are vaccinated. can you get backes to the committeere with an answer to te
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question so that we can know where the science stands and wheree the administration stand? secretary cardona, i note that as young families are thinking about having children, they consider the plans for having a child and consider pre-k and childcare, about college expenses down the road. and i note that in the president's plan, the so-called reconciliation bill of $3.5 trillion, that the plan is children -- childcare, rather, and early learning expire after six years, instead of ten years in the full program. pre-k expires after seven years, and community college coverage expires after five years. do you think that young parents should, therefore, plan on these programs disappearing in the six, seven, five years as proposed under theog
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administrations legislation? >> thank you, senator romney, for the question. we are at a point in the country's history where we have the opportunity for transformational change for our students and -- >> i totally agree. i don't want to go on a different topic here, which is the transformation -- is this a permanenter change or, its transformation, but is it temporary, five, six, seven years and the programs go away, that's notan transformational, that's bait and switch. >> senator, i do believe at this point the families, especially close to the pandemic, providing community college access -- that only helps the economy -- >> but should it expire at the end as it is planned now? >> i'm hopeful, senator, that today goes well for the families across the country and in the coming years we will find ways to continue to support those strategies that we know left american families --nd >> upyou mean it's your anticipation that the parents should count on them continuing?
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>> that is the goal -- >> if that is the goal for all these programs, not the five years, six or seven years is in the legislation, how are you going to pay for it? because there's only one of two ways. even more debt for higher taxes. which do you prefer? >> senator, i know when the proposed budget, no one making under 400,000 will see an increase in taxes, but i will tell you -- >> but if you say right away down the road they expect to expire and you want them to continue, any promises about not raisingpi taxes on people making under 400,000st today, those are going to expire as well. >> as a lifetime educator, what is being proposed is transformational for the families -- >> i agree it's transformational, but i'm not sure in the right way. i'm concerned we are going to double the child tax care credit, which allows people to help pay for childcare. at the same time, we are going to give them free pre-k for two
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years. why double? why give people free pre-k and double their child tax care credit, which they could use themselves to either decide to care for their own children at home, to go to headstart, to go to a private childcare facility -- why do we have to both double the child tax credit and at the same time, provide free pre-k and by the way, build new school classrooms to do so? >> senator, for me as an educator, early childhood education is the foundation for a strong educational program. >> totally agree but why do we have to pay for it twice? >> i've seen the benefit of it and i know for many families, their ability to get back to work and add to their income is -- >> i'm perfectly happy with providing funding to families so they can provide child care for their child. i think they ought to have the choiceap of providing it themselves if they want to, either with a family member or spouse or number two, sending a child to a childcare facility of their choice. but to say you're going to do that and we are also going to
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give you public school childcare, that's two programs doubling the cost and taking the incentive from the people that might choosems to have the child care at home. i think my time is up. i'm sorry. backde to you. >> thank you, senator romney. senator marshall. >> okay. thank you, madam chair and thanksto to the secretary for being here. to talk about the intersection of healthcare and education, something thater is near and der to so many of us. if we talk about the highest causes of death for your students, for our students, it's accidents or trauma, suicide is number two, homicide is number three, cancer might be going up or down, depending which age group we are talking about. but focus being this morning for me is on the emotional health and the impact on the suicide rates from covid as well as our
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policies. that's what i want to focus on today, and especially what our mandates do to the emotional health of our children. i turned to the conversation of natural immunity just for a second. look, i've seen the data. all the moms out there have seen the data on the natural immunity. and i'm telling you, they are going to protect their kids. they don't see the benefit of vaccine for something their children are already immune to. and there are already risks associated with the vaccine. don't get me wrong, i've had the vaccine, my parents have had it, i hope my parents get the boostersrs soon. i'm in favor of vaccines. but we are talking about our children and those that already have immunity, i think that many americans have concerns about this, and the emotional impact thate those kids get kicked out of school because of this mandate. i think you both acknowledge that getting kicked out of
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school has a huge stigma to it. and this isow my question for yu both, yes or no. if the cdc would acknowledge natural immunity and a child has antibodies, would you consider excluding them from the mandate? let me say that again, if the cdc would acknowledge natural immunity and a child has antibodies, would you consider excluding the child from the mandate? sec. cardona, yes or no? >> thank you, senator. it requires more than a yes or no. i know states and local districts are the ones making decisions around masks and vaccines. and i would rely on them. because i'm not a medical doctor, i rely very heavily -- >> that is the question if the cdc acknowledges a child has antibodies, would you support excluding that child from the mandate? think of the emotional impact of that child being kicked out of school for something they are already immune to and the suicide rate.
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secretary becerra, can you answer the question yes or no? >> senator [inaudible] i was good to say you will be disappointed it isn't a yes or no answer. science doesn't act as quickly as you'd like on those answers. what i can tell you is we have looked at the science and some of the studies and the data and for example, in the state of kentucky with regards to children, there's a study that showed that for those, actually individuals not just children, people who were unvaccinated, who had had covid showed that they were twice as likely to be reinfected with covid than those that had been vaccinated. >> we can argue about the studies all day. i'm a physician, you are a lawyer and you probably don't want to go down that road. i'm telling you the huge majority of the studies show that natural immunity is better
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than the vaccination. the huge majority, and let's not just talk about getting the virus, let's talk about hospitalization, morbidity and mortality. the job is to decide if the statement is true that i'm saying that natural immunity is better, that is up to the cdc. my question was if the cdc would acknowledge it and a child has antibodies, would you excuse them from the mandate? but we need to go on. i'm very concerned about migrants coming across the border carrying infectious diseases as well. probably over 3 million have come across the border illegally, legally and many of which are children. i'm very concerned about not just at the covid and variance that they are bringing, but tuberculosis. haiti has the highest rate of tuberculosis in the western hemisphere. measles and mumps as well. and what are you going to do to test those children before they get into the schools to make sure they get their
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immunizations? secretary becerra? >> we do have jurisdiction over some of those that were accompanied, and we have jurisdictions over the ones turned to us by customs and border protection. we make sure that no child is pleased in our setting whether it is a licensed care facility or in the hands of a responsible custodian. without first making sure that they are free of covid and they've had a vaccination. so we make sure that no one, whether it's u.s. citizens or anyone coming into this country can infect someone else. >> and i'm sure you are measuring that, somehow. sec. cardona, the students entering the school systems that haven't been tested were properlyy. immunized? >> all students a including noncitizen students have access to meals, education and any health care needs they have to make sure they are healthy. >> but there's a difference between access and actually happening. we have to be just overwhelmed
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right now, the systems in schools with these children. 12,000 haitians recently have been turned into the united states and i want to share compassion and love with those folks. i've done mission work in haiti. i've been to the border. i understand that humanity of eall of this. but i also don't want my grandchildren exposed to tuberculosis let alone new variance of covid. i will yield back. >> thank you. senator baldwin. >> thank you, madam chair. i'm ambitious and hoping that we can get to three topics in my five minutes, all related to how your two departments are working together with resources provided in the american rescue plan. i want to start with mental health services. senator casey earlier brought that up with you. as we do reopen schools and
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recognize the mental health tolls of the pandemic has had on our nation's youth and families, i think there should be a focus on making mental health care more accessible in schools, including by promoting and expanding the availability of school-based mental health programs. certainly working with the chair of this committee in our other joint committee appointments on the subcommittee on labor hhs and appropriations to emphasize and elevate funding to expand school-based mental health programs in wisconsin and across the country. can you talk about how your agencies are collaborating to expand access to mental health services in schools and what else you need from congress in order to advance this effort? and starting with secretary
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cardona. >> i will be brief because i know you have three topics and my colleagues will speak. thank you for bringing up the importance of the well-being of students and the fact that we have to build back better. we can't go back to how it was before. our students have been traumatized. before the pandemic we should have been doing more. the collaboration has been great. i recently had a road trip and the u.s. surgeon general joined and we were talking about the importance of mental r health access. i visited a high school where they are restructuring their day to provide mental health access and social and emotional well-being for 6,000 high school students. in the arp, funding is there for that. the money in the build back better i have to mention to doublest the number of social workers, school counselors. and the importance of community schools to make sure agencies are coming in. i can continue.ho it's a priority. the road to this [inaudible] >> secretary becerra.
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>> senator, i will simply add to the department of education and hhs and cdc have been working closely together to make sure we are using the data properly together. we are constantly working to make sure we are informing school districts as best we can with the science is telling us and so working together very closely, and that's a good sign. as i mentioned before, we've made historic investments in mental health and in substance abuse disorder as a result of the work you did to pass the american rescue plan. and i will mention something important not just between departments but within my own agency because we are so large and have so many agencies that touch mental health. i established a council within hhs to make sure we are all working together. the administration for children and families soco we are not missing anything. we are working together with our sister departments. >> the second topic i wanted to
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mention is the funding for testing in the american rescue plan. i am encouraged by the administration's efforts to follow the science. but unfortunately, conventional testing especially in schools has come with challenges. we've heard about some of themna this morning. and we need to make sure we are advancing innovative approaches to keeping our kids andbo teachs healthy. at the university of wisconsin, we are working on a proposal to expand surveillance of respiratory viruses, including covid-19 and influenza, by collecting air samples from schools. unfortunately, they've been struggling to access funding from the american rescue plan because the state is focused on funding conventional diagnostic testing. hows are the departments working together to evaluate innovative approaches to testing that might be very beneficial to schools
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and school settings? and will you commit to providing states the flexibility they need to expand enhanced testing through innovative proposals? >> so, i will start off by saying yes, definitely we recognize the importance of testing and the accessibility to testing on the surveillance testing for the students. that's how we keep our schools safe and that's how we will keep our children in the classroom, which is a priority for all of us. we seem good examples in mexico and north louisiana and louisville kentucky. what we are doing is lifting up the best practices. one of the sites i visited with last week was an access family center where they provided testing and partnered with the schools. we went to see that firsthand to see how it worked and we want to makesc sure we are promoting bet practices to educators across w the country. >> i will simply add along with working together department wide, we've also provided about
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$10 billion through the cdc directly to the school districts so they can start doing the testing they need. we continue to provide technical assistance collaborating tool ge them the guidance they may need to know how to best use the resources and we are going to do more. a. >> i will state the last question for the record and you can follow up but i wanted to know how the agencies are collaborating with experts and industry in the ventilation space to ensure that the improvements i supported by the american rescue plan funding are designed and installed and maintained in a way that promotes health and minimizes illness among the students, teachers and staff. >> i will have my staff follow up with you. >> good morning, gentlemen.
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>> secretary becerra, been hearing people all across the country. everybody is ready to get back to a normal life and i know you are. specifically our teachers. i'm hearing from a lot of teachers. teachers are concerned. they know they are going to get exposed, no way around it but they want to know they have an effective means once they get sick. example i had a teacher write me a letter. she got sick and goes to the hospital. really sick but they turned her back because there were no antibodies. alabama hospitals have had a pretty good supply over the last couple of i would say four or five months of the antibodies.
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secretary becerra, why did the hhs take over the supply chain of the antibodies in the last few months? can you give us a good reason? >> i'm glad you asked because this is on the minds of a lot of folks. we havela seen a tremendous increase in the demand for these antibodies. in the state of alabama in july your state ordered, all the providers ordered a total of 6800 doses. in august your state ordered over 45,000. in less than two months it went up that quickly and your state wasn't the only one. the difficulty is that immediate surge tryingy to beat that demad became complicated and so what we have done is searched with that to make sure we are manufacturing more so they continue to match the manufacturing more about whatt e thought was important is to make
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sure every state. alabama and any other state had access to those. so what we did is rather than let those therapies be secured on site, by anybody on site, we decided to let the states decide how to coordinate so they would make sure that everyone would have access to those antibodies and not just one place and one part of alabama. so the formula for that distribution is public. your staff and youan have that. we are trying to have transparency how to make sure that those therapies and treatments are available to all. >> we had a huge contract with two companies and when they are ready to deliver we said we don't need them. this was in april. and i just want to know who in the world would turn those down in this time of need. it doesn't make sense.
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they came back and gave a lot because we went back to them and they said luckily we've held some of them but then we had to crank it back up. who would make that decision? >> the request for the use of this was coming from the places at home in your state and we were making sure we were providing the distribution to make it possible to do that so until these last few months when the delta variant surge and people were getting sick, by the way seven states right now essentially are taking in about 70% of all of those antibodies. of the 50 states and so you can see that it's occurred quickly and what we are trying to do is make sure the manufacturers are producing the supply that's needed and make sure the distribution is done fairly and equitably and s transparently ad there is accountability as well because we don't want to find that someone goes without that
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because somebody else got it and shouldn't have. >> we need to focus more on the therapeutics. i've talked to a lot of doctors, especially the school systems. we need to be testing. kids can have the virus and if we wait until they get symptoms, they've had it for two days and they've already been in school and it's been exposed. i just hope -- i heard you say about equity, and i continue to hear everybody talk about equity and i believe in that but we need to save people's lives. we can't shut down alabama or these other states for the fact we might not be taking as many vaccines. we cannot let peopleor die, and especially teachers. we tell them to go back to school but i would hope we
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wouldn't get political with this. red states, blue states. it shouldn't be about that. it should be about everybody and we just need to be more prepared. secretary cardona, i've got some questions for you and i will put it on the record, madam chair but thank you. very good answers and i look forward to hearing from you. >> thank you. senator lujan. >> thank you to our distinguished witnesses for being available today. several studies have found mask usage dramatically reduces the spread of covid-19, including rural schools in wisconsin that found it reduced by 37%. secretary becerra, do you agree wearing masks and schools reduces the spread of covid? >> senator, i think the evidence now is overwhelming that good peoplelicies help keep safe. making sure even if you are
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vaccinated that you continue to use the masking policy if you are indoors. especially for the kids because we have kids under the age of 12 that are not vaccinated and so there's no doubt the studies, the evidence, the science has shown that it works. >> i'm going to ask a series of yes or no questions and i would ask that you try to get through them quickly as i have several others. is the best way to keep schools openno to deploy proven health measures like masks and testing? >> follow the science and the data that is helping us keep people safe. >> it sounds like a yes. sec. cardona. >> it's proven yes, mitigation strategies work. >> does banning localities from implementing efforts to reopen and keep schools open? secretary becerra. >> we have to use common sense andff we have to do everything o keep our kids safe. we want to make sure we are
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using the different treatments and therapies and strategies that keep our kids safe. masking, vaccines, distancing, ventilation, hygiene, all that works and we should be able to do all those. why should any parent not be able to do those? >> the reopening date is pretty clear. in places where they are more t relaxed about the negotiation strategy is 3.5 times more likely to have spread the results and school closures. >> does banning localities from implementing measures disproportionately impact those with disabilities and underlying health conditions? >> senator, both of the disabilities are more vulnerable andnd susceptible to covid. we have to do everything we can to keep them safe. the most effective way to do that is all the different strategies that i just mentioned. >> students with disabilities are disproportionately impacted when the poor policies are implemented. >> has the disinformation on masking and vaccine on the tech platforms negatively impacted the response to getting kids back into the classroom?
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secretary becerra. >> again, as science should guide us, the facts and the data should guide us and not social media, not politics and so i hope that families who are concerned for their kids safety and school will follow the science and the facts. >> sec. cardona. >> we are focused on following the science and communicating that in different platforms to make sure that our families are getting accurate information. >> ngit recently was announced that youtube was going to stop allowing disinformation videos on vaccine and covid. i applaud them and i hope the other social media platforms follow them. turning to the effective use of relief funds, new mexico school districts reported that the elementary and secondary school emergency relief program entered cdc control of emerging infectious diseases, funds are critical lifelines. with the recent doubling of the teacher vaccinations in new mexico, school worker shortages are one of the main reasons for
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school closures in r my state. i'm proud that my state took bold steps of investing 38 million in the american rescue plan funds to stand at the teaching fellows program to strengthen the teacher pipeline into new mexico schools. it also invested 10 million to increase the number of school-based mental health counselors. funds are also building a more equitable education system by helping schools to close the homework gap. sec. cardona, what other innovative uses of the funds have you seen from the states and districts that have kept the schools open and made education more equitable for the long term? >> i visited five states in five days on a back-to-school road trip, where i was able to see firsthand how the students were happy to be back and we are back in business because the american rescue plan and funding to the government. and i've seen ventilation systems improved.
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i've seen students having access to school social workers, parents having access to support in the schools. i've seen professional development, students in the summer programs that are intended to get students to reengage after a year and a half of being in front of the screen through the use t of the americn rescue plan funds and colleges also engaging students in different ways, creating pipeline programss because of te american rescueo plan. i get a birds eye view and visit those across the country to see the amazing things happening as a result of the rescue plan and students are fortunate they have educators that are committed to fmeeting their needs when the students come back. many great things a are happenig in our schools today. >> i have questions in the area of in person learning and mental and behavioral health i will submit for the record and i think the witnesses for being here. >> thank you, madam chair. secretary cardona, i think all of us can agree that students suffer when they are not in
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school. to avoid another year of learning loss, emotional turmoil and behavioral problems, some school districts are implementing a new approach and what they do is if they allow asymptomatic students that test negative for the virus to stay in school rather than quarantiningo them. and after another member tested positive for the virus. a recent study in [inaudible] suggested the test and stay approach can be safe. there was a randomized trial that included more than 150 schools in britain. it wasn't significantly higher
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than the schools that allowed close contact with infected students or staff members to remain in class and those that require at home quarantine. so, if the goal is to keep the schools open. despite the evidence the cdc has said that at this time they do not recommendid or endorse a tet tuesday program even though the consequences are thousands of students in the country are once again not in school because of quarantining. do you agree with the cdc or do
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you agree with the study? and those school districts that are using a stay in school testing method? >> thank you for communicating the importance of in person learning. that's the best way to get the students the support they need after this year and a half. there is emerging data orup studies around this test. to be very frank, since the beginning of the pandemic, we've worked closely and listened to the science of the cdc and its to safely reopen schools. we will continue to work with the cdc and implement but we are going to rely on the health experts that have guided us to the point that we will reopen for all schools. the guidance with health experts over the past year has been
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conflicting and inconsistent and that height and distrust in the institutions at the time when the public needs to be able to rely upon them. and i think the latest example of this confusing and conflicting advice has to do with the booster shots and that would lead me to my next and final question for secretary becerra. the research and review and deputy are leading this fall in part because of the decision-making over boosters. this weekend the cdc director commented and conceded the confusion and messaging around who should receive the booster and this was after she overruled
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the recommendation over her own advisory committee. two public health experts wrote in "the new york times" that the new federal recommendations go well beyond the data. so how can hhs better and shorter that the agencies in this country at the federal level truly are following the science and produce a consistent reliable message? >> senator, thank you for the question. leton me put it this way. covid doesn't run a linear course and as we've seen it can dodge and get around and be
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strong and fast. we have to try to keep pace. we have to wait for the science to give direction on where it goes and where to turn and going back to what was said earlier we have to use common sense. i believe that the director used the science and common sense to decide how best to keep americans safe with regard to boosts and i think the fda has done a tremendous job with the science that is also evolving with the variance to keep americans safe. chances are you're not going to probably be hospitalized. unvaccinated, 99% of people dying today are unvaccinated. we've done the best we can to use the science to guide us and stay within the framework of the
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law. [inaudible] thank you both for your service and answering all the questions they dropped the enrollment of 9%, that's 7,000 students. i want to see if it's possible what are the ways we can try to recapture some of the students and if it's possible to get students the freedom to explore for the flexibility to explore the methods such as the example
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of climate allows providing the tools for students where it's appropriate to learn outside. >> thank you for the question. this has been an issue and there was one study partners estimated 3 million students across the country. that's significant. and we know that our students that may be were underserved are more likely to be disenrolled so the priority is to get the students back into the classroom and knock on doors, make sure we are doing everything in our power to create programs that didn'tm, exist before and get tm the support that they need. part of this is data requiring the absenteeism especially if they received accountability waivers and we are expecting
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more information on chronic absenteeism. we've provided handbook updates with strategies on how to get them enrolled and i have to tell you last week i listened to examples and i saw some examples firsthand of what is happening across thehe country. we have programs in different states where they are going out and knocking on doors and getting students back into the classroom. there is a program in connecticut that has social workers knocking d on doors. in ohio i was introduced to a teacher who spent time over the summer. with the outdoor instruction we know one of the innovative practices that came out last year was learning outdoors and thisis is a practice that i hope continues when we reopen our
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schools. students enjoy more and we learn better when they are with their peers, so that is a strategy i hope to see continue in our schools. >> i have seen you've been everywhere all over the country so i give you tremendous credit for putting in the time wheno it's so needed. we are prepared for the next and we've seen estimates when you average it out over 100 years the cost of society is in the hundreds of billions per year and yet over four years for
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$30 million we could build and get a vaccine within 100 days the comments are not just those of a senator but an executive that ran the state. we are trying to get ahead of the next pandemic so we are trying to make those investments now. we will coordinate with the sector and doing the things we need to do. we need to make sure the supply chain we work on that to make sure we never had a situation again where we don't have enough
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masks. thank you both of you for your service. >> thank you for being here. appreciate it. important discussion here t this morning. many of my colleagues have touched on some of the issues that i wanted to raise. let meme go into a couple of different areas. we've learned the benefits of distance learning and how we are
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able to connect virtually while it is not ideal i think we recognize that it has helped to facilitate some very remote areas. my state is one where we have many parts of the state that are either unserved or underserved. in certain areas that underserved comes about because the cost for internet, the cost to deliver broadband to the community's is prohibitively expensive. you could have a family paying $800 a month to receive their services and its slow and cumbersome and it doesn't work for anyone. we have i think done a lot to
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address this inequity that we know exists within access to broadband and bipartisan infrastructurere will. it's another great example of the work that we continue to do ebut we know that it's going to take time to build up this erbrought back capacity to connt communities and homes. the fcc has been working on a rule to allow schools to use their funded broadband to bring the instruction into the students homes. as i understand they have not finalized this rule so are you working with them to get that work finalized thank you for bringing up the importance of making sure the communities also get the support they they need.
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broadband access was difficult to come by and we've spoken about this and i recognize the challenge that is for students in the state to access learning online. i would appreciate that because i'm getting those requests and i don't have anything definitive to provide at this point in time. another concern that i'm hearing as we have a lot of money for tests, whether it's from the rapid test where the test that you are able to get and take home. but having access to federal funding doesn't necessarily mean that you can find those tests
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and the businesses that are worried about this mandate that's coming out of the administration that says either get vaccinated or do testing but there is no place to do the testing but certainly not to get the rapid test so you've indicated in response to senator smith we've got the tests out there but it's difficult to get them distributed. i don't know if that is just within the schools. but you need to know that right now there is a real crush to be able to get the testing that can get the results back in a timely enough manner to make a difference. right now you go into the anchorage international airport where i get tested every time i land and there are no rapid tests available. theypo say that it's due to a national shortage.
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so how can we assure people that if you want to test whether for work or for school we can't just say we put lots of money out there but we need to make sure that it's actually getting to folks. a. >> i think that you would agree we have seen the surgeon the last couple of months delta has been the driver of all of this. >> alaska is number one and we don't want to be number one. we are in a very challenging place right now. >> i want to make sure that i mention we are getting ready to move forward on the rulemaking that might interest you as well. broadband is an issue but we could talk about this later. in terms of testing, to move forward and provide as much testing opportunity as possible there are different tests that could be m made available. we try to work close with the industry and manufacturing base to make sure they know what
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supply will be needed for any part of the state or the region in the country so we make sure there's always a sufficient supply for every state. it's one of those things we have to work in close partnership with our state and local teams to make sure we are coordinating well because in some places there is enough supply and in others as you mentioned it's not so we have to make sure that we coordinate very well. >> we are going to be dealing with this and having this in our schools for a lot longer than any of us would like so the availability and quick turnaroundon is going to have to be madeou a priority. >> senator kane.
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>> i wish there wasn't turmoil and masking there's political turmoil and everybody here thinks they ought to be cheap. when you said there's adequate supply and the distributional problems, that may be true but it's not true that there is an adequate supply ofai the affordable test so the cheapest test, the rapid covid the test test thatyou can buyy right nows basically $12 a test and second cheapest is $15 per test. in germany you can get a rapid test at the grocery store for less than one dollar. and a rapid test is $3.50. the uk provides 14 tests to everybody in the united kingdom.
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if the tests are like a dollar they will get tests to make sure they can go to work or test their kids to make sure it's safe for them to be at school but it's $15 the willingness to regularly test yourself dramatically goes down. what are we doing to make sure that the costs are costs that people can afford. >> some of those countries have a federal system that lets them move much faster than we do. we have a program that allows to dictate so much of this and as i mentioned some states prepared
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better and some states didn't. we try to coordinate far better with them. among the billions of that you made available to us and the supplementalo appropriations te rescue plan, that is about 42 or 43 billion that you made available for testing. 10 billion by the way of that was specifically for schools. i mentioned earlier president biden called for another $2 billion to help make sure that the industries are manufacturing sufficient supplies. so we try to do everything we can to make sure the supply is there and as i mentioned earlier, try to work closely with our partners to coordinate so we are hitting the spots that need it the most and never running out of supply. i would like to hear what your metric is about not just supply but the what the cost should be to somebody that goes to be pharmacy to buy the test because if the research shows people bwill get tested if it is a
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dollar or two or three but they won't get tested if it's 15, we can have all the supplies we want. if the cost isn't affordable people are not going to take advantage of it. we, ought to be able to accomplish the one that we agree on so i would hope to get some metrics in the defense production to expand supply. i hope you have a metric of affordability and i will follow up on that. i want to say quickly i'm worried about the teacher's shortages and school shortages generally, school bus drivers and guidance counselors and my city in my hometown, 435 vacancies at the start of the school year couple weeks back. do we need to kind of put your arms around that problem and focus on the teacher recruitment and retention and preparation because i think that this is a
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challenge all across the country. >> children are back in school or back in person learning but there's other needs we have to focus on now and the shortage was exacerbated in the pandemic. what we need to do is make sure we are creative and innovative with programming to allow for the recruitment programs and pipeline programs. we have educators, liaisons and we have to work with the higher ed to make sure that they are pathways to get into the profession. i saw a great program at the university of wisconsin madison, folks that are getting a job in the school so there are funds available in the agenda to help accelerate this, bilingual education and some of the other shortage areas but we have to make sure that we are also
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elevating the profession by providing the support they need and ensuring that teachers are safe and making sure that we are promoting the profession as a viable option and teachers are giving a livable wagesa as well. >> increasing the new pathways into the profession and attracting more people and i think that it would accomplish some of those. >> senator braun. >> thank you. i have two questions and one for secretary becerra. in indiana recently and the schools across the country are trying to reopen. everybody is trying to do it safely. it's a different. i know some of those meetings are a little rowdy and in this case i think the discussion was on mask mandates, curriculum related to may be critical race theory.
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i think that civic engagement, i was on a school board for ten years and i always tell people you will get an ear full of something. it will be an indication if you are ready for something else. i was a little disturbed and i gwant to see if you meant the comment. it was in relation to how are they doing this and i want to quote this. your response for that engagement i think it is a proxy for being mad that they didn't win and i'm quoting it verbatim. i know you probably didn't mean that and i will give you a chance to re- track it is that something you want to take back? >> i noticed the school board meetings are a little bit more intense but the school boards arechch unwavering in providinga safe learning environment.
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>> i think that it's an honest and sincere difference of opinion acrossss the country ani don't know that i would want to be on record with that. >> the lack of civility is frustrating especially because the superintendents and educators and board members and you should know they've worked tirelessly over the last 18 months to provide a safe environmentt. they are rowdy and very dangerous. >> indiana led the nation in school choice. it's something that coming through the pandemic i think it is clear parents ought to be the drivers of the equation. i think parents from k-12 and especially those that have had kids pursue a four-year degree and they end up in the basement with an unmarked degree need to have more say so. they pay the bill with property taxes and tuition room and
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board. fairly quick answers because i want to get to the secretary. do you think parents should be in charge of their child's education is a primary stakeholder? >> parents are important stakeholders and have a role in determining educational programming. >> i think that's going to be a little out of focus and what you will find in the elements of education. to be the primary spokespersons parents should have options and i believe they do it across the country. ids came from a great public
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school system. it exceeds things. should the money follow the students or should it follow the school? i believe the education systems should have students -- we need to have that high quality option for all students. >> we've been navigating which has been challenging in many respects.be the baseline of fighting it and vaccines some are under 10% vaccination rates what is your opinion on making it may be a tripod of therapeutics and prophylactics and addressing a market need that we not only do
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what we are doing on vaccines but we put equal emphasis on curing it once you get it and preventing it in the first place. what do you think? >> all of the above, senator. >> when we give an emphasis any more broad-based approach. >> i think we have been doing that because the fact that we iare able to meet so much of te demand is a side of that. but i want to make sure that we remember that it's all of the above and [inaudible] it's better to prevent than remediate. so i'm asking social distancing.
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the information that's been put on the table will help us and thank you for the work you are doing in a really challenging time and for having this conversation with us. look forward to working with you both as we continue to help students, families, educators get through the pandemic and also grapple with the challenges that we discussed today so the schools can get stronger but they are also about the workplace. >> any senator that wants to ask additional questions should get those in for the record in ten business days on or before october 15th at 5 p.m. the hearing record will also remain open bringing members who wish to submit additional records for the record. the committee will meet october 7th in this room on to 16 to consider the nominations
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of lisa gomez to be the assistant secretary of the department of labor benefits security administration and thea assistant secretary for the department of labor and training administration. the committee stands adjourned.
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>> [inaudible conversations]
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with these other television providers giving a front row seat to democracy. since the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan the defense secretary joins mark meli and u.s. central command commander general kenneth mackenzie testified on the afghanistan withdrawal today in front of the senate armed services committee. senators asked about evacuations of americans and afghan allies intelligence failures and counterterrorism measures. general millie defended calls to the chinese military counterpart following the 2020 election in a book by bob woodward and acosta.

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