It looks like we are going to see the issue of opening schools safely turn into an argument about unions. This is unfortunate and unnecessary. President Biden has repeatedly favored “high-paying union jobs.” Conservatives generally have espoused “right-to-work laws” that tend to suppress union activity.
I am a retired teacher with 42 years of experience. At one point I taught in a school constructed during the presidential term of Ulysses Grant. It was built for students who suffered from tuberculosis. Windows went from floor to ceiling and swung on hinges so as to be opened fully. Radiators were extra-large so there was enough heat in winter with the windows open. Health officials thought students needed fresh air all year. I was teaching in the building in the 1970s when crime dictated that the windows be screwed shut even though the radiators still fully functioned. By then tubercular pupils received different treatment and my students were healthy. Sometimes in January and February the temperatures in the room reached 130 degrees.
I mention this only to point out that our schools in this country represent our housing in terms of age and condition of repair. The Biden administration’s request for $160 billion in aid to open and operate schools safely seems to me reasonable. This is a pandemic. All schools will need help. Some more than others.