Biden administration releases billions of dollars to schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – No country has vaccinated more people than the U.S. but as vaccinations increase, so do concerns about variants.

Cases across the country are continuing to rise, which may further complicate the president’s promise to get kids back in school.

President Biden’s goal: for the majority of elementary and middle schools to be back open in his first 100 days, which would give him just over a month.

But in some cities, while many are eager to return to the classroom, new COVID cases are climbing.

Thursday morning, the push to get students back in the classroom got a multi-billion-dollar boost. President Biden announced $81 billion has already started going to schools across all 50 states as part of the administration’s pledge to get campuses open this spring.

Biden said, “I need states to move quickly to get these resources down to the school districts and put them to work.”

The president and vice president also called on schools to offer summer learning opportunities for all students. The plan is part of an effort to make up for a year of lost time and lost learning across the country.

The urgent push to get students back in school comes amid a troubling trend. Cases around the country are on the rise.

Cities like Chicago are reporting their highest numbers since October. And in New Jersey, cases are spiking, up nearly 38% from just a month ago.

Experts are warning another wave could come crashing down.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “I’m often asked, ‘Are we turning the corner?’ My response is more like we are at the corner. Whether or not we are going to be turning that corner still remains to be seen.”

Amid an urgent race against variants, the president pledged $10 billion to expand vaccine access and boost confidence in high-risk and hard-hit communities.

84 million Americans have received at least one shot, that’s about one third of American adults. And Thursday morning, a new milestone: 70% of Americans 65 and older have received at least one dose. It’s some hope in the fight that has already cost so many lives.

President Biden is expected to announce a new vaccine goal that’s being described as “ambitious.”

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca, after saying its vaccine was 79% effective earlier this week, has revised that number after scrutiny from federal officials. The company now says the vaccine, still not yet approved in the U.S., is 76 percent effective.

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