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FOX61 NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Education Sec. Dr. Miguel Cardona talks about reopening schools timeline

Cardona sat down exclusively with FOX61 News’ Jenn Bernstein to speak about visiting his hometown with the First Lady and about his plans for reopening schools.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Fresh off visiting an elementary school in his native Meriden with the first lady, new Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona said Thursday that he would be taking his experience about reopening schools in Connecticut to the national level, hopefully having students back in the fall.

The 45-year-old Cardona sat down exclusively with FOX61 News’ Jenn Bernstein to speak about his visit to his hometown on Wednesday and about his plans about getting all students back into in-class learning sooner rather than later.

“It was such a proud moment for our city, for our school system because there are so many hardworking people in Meriden, and I am proud to be a part of that community and proud to have the first lady visit,” he said of the visit. “It’s very special.”

Cardona and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visited Benjamin Franklin Elementary School on Wednesday morning, visiting with some kindergarten students and teachers who have been in classrooms since the beginning of the school year.

“A lot of what I am proposing is based off my experience in Connecticut,” he said. “There is no playbook … on how to reopen from a pandemic. What we do know is that when we come together, and we listen to the best ideas and what people learned by making mistakes, we are going to get the best strategies, and we are going to communicate those strategies.”

He continued: “It’s about engaging folks early – parents, students, educators, leaders – and saying ‘Let's solve this together' and building a culture of trust and respect, and then the technical stuff will come.”

The life-long educator who rose through the ranks of the state’s school system first as a fourth-grade teacher and then to principal, assistant superintendent, and finally as commissioner of education, said the first order of business is building on the COVID-19 handbook the Department of Education issued even before he took the job and to include more robust tips and strategies that they have learned.

“I know in Connecticut with over 90% of the students having in-person options, and we were able to do it, so I am hopeful that before the fall, we have the majority of schools across our country open and staying open. And opening safely, he said. “It’s about safe reopening.”

Cardona said he would be keeping students at the center of all conversations because it is privileged to serve them.

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