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Are migrant children receiving ‘classroom education’ while teacher’s unions keep American kids out?

Unaccompanied migrant children apprehended at the border are provided with a number of taxpayer-funded services including “classroom education,” according to the Department of Homeland Security agency that handles their care. Some frustrated Americans want to know if the program includes in-person learning under the rules of the pandemic.

We’d like that question answered, too.

The issue arose as millions of American kids continue to be denied similar opportunities to learn in-person by recalcitrant teacher’s unions that say that it’s too dangerous with the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

Reports on Tuesday noted that DHS reopened a migrant overflow facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, as illegal immigration ramps up following a series of executive orders signed last month by President Joe Biden as he took office that undid most of former President Donald Trump’s tough border enforcement actions.

According to DHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, reopening the facility was necessary in order to prevent unaccompanied alien children (UAC) from being kept in facilities operated by the U.S. Border Patrol. According to USA Today, reopening the Influx Care Facility will “ensure that children are placed in an appropriate setting where they can receive care and services, such as education, medical and mental health care, counseling, recreation, and access to legal services.”

The ORR’s website notes that education services will be provided in a classroom setting:

Services include:

— Classroom education

— Health care

— Socialization/recreation

— Vocational training

— Mental health services

— Family reunification

— Access to legal services; and

— Case management

Federal law requires the government to provide these and other services and care to UACs who have no legal immigration status, are under 18 years of age, and have no legal guardian in the U.S. The law also requires children to be transferred to such shelters, which are operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, within 72 hours of being apprehended.

According to Axios, HHS is currently caring for about 5,000 UACs.

Meanwhile, American children around the country are still being kept out of classroom learning environments mostly because teacher’s unions have refused to allow their members to return to schools, claiming that doing so puts them at risk of contracting COVID-19.

But that claim runs afoul of federal health guidelines and research indicating there is little chance of the virus being spread in schools that are open.

In fact, last week Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that research shows the virus spreads more rapidly through communities when schools remain closed.

“What we are finding from the science-based literature is that there is more spread that is happening in the community when schools are not open than when schools are open,” she said during an interview with CNN.

“If schools are closed, there is lots of other risks,” she added. “That is, risks to food insecurity and many of the other things mentioned: the lack of education, educational milestones being missed. So, many other things that we have to think about in the risk.”

Walensky’s comments followed the CDC’s release of a 35-page report providing schools with guidance on how to safely reopen, including masks and social distancing. But the agency noted it isn’t necessary to vaccinate students and teachers in order to reopen.

“The science has demonstrated that schools can reopen safely prior to all teachers being vaccinated,” Walensky said.

Earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki recalibrated President Biden’s earlier stated objective of having all schools reopened within his first 100 days in office, saying that could mean only one day of in-person classroom instruction.

“Does it mean teachers in classroom teaching students in classrooms or does it just mean kids in classrooms with a remote screen? Help us understand,” one reporter asked.

“That means some teaching in classrooms. So at least one day a week, hopefully, it’s more. And obviously, it is as much as is safe in each school and local district,” Psaki responded.

Jon Dougherty

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