06.23.20

VIDEO RELEASE: Committee Holds Virtual Briefing on School Infrastructure

WASHINGTON – Today, the Committee on Education and Labor held a virtual briefing to discuss the state of school infrastructure. The briefing, entitled “Reopening and Rebuilding America’s Schools,” came on the heels of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which projected that 54 percent of school districts across the country must replace or update major systems in more than half their buildings.

The report also found that 4 in 10 schools needed to replace Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems in at least half of their school buildings, impacting 36,000 school buildings nationwide. School districts’ need for replacement HVAC systems is particularly notable given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises schools to ensure “ventilation systems operate properly” when considering resuming operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The briefing featured Jackie Nowicki, Director of K-12 Education at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

“In recent weeks, we have heard many calls to immediately reopen the more than 124,000 schools that have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the question we face is not whether we need to reopen our schools.  We can all agree that we must reopen schools as soon as possible,” said Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (CNMI), Chair of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education. “The question is how we can ensure that all students, teachers, and families return to schools that are safe and well-equipped to provide a quality education.”

The briefing also focused on the need to pass the Reopening and Rebuilding America’s Schools Act—a $130 billion investment in helping schools reopen safely and providing students and educators a safe place to learn and work. The bill was included in House Democrats’ recently introduced infrastructure package, the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2).

 

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