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Some teachers cautiously optimistic about President Biden's plan to safely reopen more schools

The new administration is proposing increased testing, vaccination and funding for schools.

HOUSTON — Houston ISD educator Maxie Hollingsworth is preparing to return to in-person teaching at Red Elementary, but not without concerns for one of her young daughters who has an underlying medical condition.

"She is very afraid that I’m going to bring home coronavirus," Hollingsworth said. "And she knows that she’s at risk.”

Hollingsworth said the district allowed her to teach from home, until now, as many students continue to learn remotely as well.

She and many other educators are cautiously optimistic about what they’ve heard from President Joe Biden regarding schools.

“I would be less concerned if teachers and school support staff were at the top of the line, top of the list for getting vaccine," Hollingsworth said. "But we’re not.”

The president’s plan, part of which was outlined Thursday in an executive order, is basically three-pronged:

  • More testing
  • More access to vaccinations
  • More funding for educational institutions

That includes billions in disaster relief money for things like personal protective equipment, sanitation and reconfiguring classrooms.

"Our goal is to open schools when they’re safe and we look forward to getting guidance from our federal partners,” said Dr. Maria Rivera with Harris County Public Health.

Rivera co-chairs HCPH's education advisory group and said, in Texas, districts have a lot more leeway to open and close schools despite health department recommendations.

But she believes communication from Washington and the CDC will undoubtedly improve.

"We’re looking forward to seeing what the Biden administration is going to be recommending,” Rivera said.

Complicating matters is a newer COVID strain that some experts believe has a greater effect on children. That's something else from which educators like Hollingsworth will try and protect themselves.

“I have a mask with a filter and then a face guard,” Hollingsworth said. "I'm as ready as I can be."