Ensuring a Safe Return to In-Person School for the Nation's Children

CourtExecutive Office Of The President
Citation86 FR 46951
Publication Date23 Aug 2021
Record Number2021-18223
Presidential Documents
Federal Register
Vol. 86, No. 160
Monday, August 23, 2021
Title 3—
The President
Memorandum of August 18, 2021
Ensuring a Safe Return to In-Person School for the Nation’s
Memorandum for the Secretary of Education
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the
laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. As the school year starts across the country, a top priority
of my Administration is to do everything in our power to ensure a safe
return to full-time, in-person school for our Nation’s children. With increased
access to vaccinations for school staff and students age 12 and older, proven
virus prevention strategies, and unprecedented resources from the American
Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117–2) (American Rescue Plan) and
other Federal pandemic relief funds, opening all schools this fall for full-
time, in-person learning is essential. At the same time, the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made clear that, with the B.1.617.2
(Delta) variant driving an increase in COVID–19 cases nationally, it is critical
for schools to protect students against exposure, especially given the number
of children who are ineligible to obtain the vaccine at this time. The CDC
has provided clear guidance to schools on how to adopt science-based
strategies to prevent the spread of COVID–19, and the Department of Edu-
cation has provided guidance to schools on how to reopen safely while
addressing the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of
our Nation’s students.
Many Governors and other State and local officials have risen to the challenge
of beginning the new school year safely and responsibly by implementing
prevention and mitigation strategies to maximize the health and safety of
students, educators, and staff. The Federal Government is supporting these
efforts in critical ways. The American Rescue Plan provides significant sup-
port to schools to develop and implement science-based health protocols
to prevent the spread of COVID–19. Additionally, the Federal Emergency
Management Agency is reimbursing States, including their school districts,
at 100 percent Federal cost share to support the safe reopening and operation
of school facilities and to effectively maintain the health and safety of
students, educators, and staff.
At the same time, however, some State governments have adopted policies
and laws that interfere with the ability of schools and districts to keep
our children safe during in-person learning. Some of these policies and
laws have gone so far as to try to block school officials from adopting
safety protocols aligned with recommendations from the CDC to protect
students, educators, and staff. And some State officials have even threatened
to impose personal financial consequences on school officials who are work-
ing tirelessly to put student health and safety first and to comply with
their legal obligations to their communities to further the essential goal
of a safe, in-person education for all students.
Our priority must be the safety of students, families, educators, and staff
in our school communities. Nothing should interfere with this goal.
Sec. 2. Department of Education Role in Ensuring a Safe Return to In-
Person School. (a) In furtherance of the policy set out in section 1 of
this memorandum, I direct the Secretary of Education to assess all available
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Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 160 / Monday, August 23, 2021 / Presidential Documents
tools in taking action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law,
to ensure that:
(i) Governors and other officials are taking all appropriate steps to prepare
for a safe return to school for our Nation’s children, including not standing
in the way of local leaders making such preparations; and
(ii) Governors and other officials are giving students the opportunity to
participate and remain in safe full-time, in-person learning without compro-
mising their health or the health of their families or communities.
(b) The Secretary of Education’s assessment in subsection (a) of this section
shall include consideration of whether to take steps toward the initiation
of possible enforcement actions under applicable laws.
Sec. 3. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be con-
strued to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency,
or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget
relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable
law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right
or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by
any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities,
its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(d) You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in
the Federal Register.
Washington, August 18, 2021
[FR Doc. 2021–18223
Filed 8–20–21; 8:45 am]
Billing code 4000–01–P
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