Joe Biden and Kamala Harris believe the challenge facing our students, parents, and educators in reopening schools safely is a national emergency, compounded by President Donald Trump’s failure to deal with COVID-19 and its impact on families across this country.

Millions of students are now beginning the school year at home instead of in the classroom because President Trump didn’t do his job. Educators, students, and families are doing heroic work, but students are falling behind, parents are struggling to cope, and educators are worried for their health and that of their families and students. And for communities of color the impact has been devastating. We cannot go on like this.

Creating the conditions to make it possible for schools to reopen safely and effectively should be a top national priority. For months, Joe Biden urged President Trump to demonstrate the leadership that this crisis demands. Biden has laid out a clear five-step roadmap to support local decision-making on reopening schools safely and to help students whose learning was interrupted.

President Trump refuses to act. He is all bluster and bullying, while Betsy DeVos, his Secretary of Education, has gone so far as to welcome COVID-19 as a “good thing.” With states facing drastic short-falls, schools are being starved of essential funding. Now, even FEMA is cutting them loose, refusing to help pay for basic health and safety needs in schools, like cleaning supplies, plexiglass dividers, and masks, and sparking concern from state, city, and county leaders nationwide. There must be no confusion on this matter.

To fully mobilize all necessary resources towards this national emergency for our schools, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would today direct FEMA to authorize and guarantee full access to disaster relief and emergency assistance for K-12 schools under the Stafford Act, ensuring that necessary steps required to safely reopen and operate schools during this pandemic qualify as “emergency protective measures” and are therefore fully eligible for federal assistance.

The School Superintendents Association and the Association of Educational Service Agencies have estimated that K-12 education requires at least $200 billion in emergency funding. This includes costs like meeting new health and safety protocols, providing remote learning technology, addressing emotional and mental health needs, and ensuring high quality learning, whether remotely or in-person, during this pandemic.

Biden and Harris are calling on Trump to bring Congressional leaders together immediately to pass this emergency support funding, as part of a comprehensive relief package for working families, small businesses, and states and local governments.  Additional support will be necessary for four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, and  HBCUs, MSIs, and TSIs.

These steps are in addition to the Biden-Harris Roadmap to Reopen Schools Safely, which Joe Biden is calling on Donald Trump to implement without further delay.