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Miguel Cardona, U.S. secretary of education, speaking during a confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., in February 2021. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Department of Education is planning a national summit in March on how to safely reopen schools, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announced in a USA Today op-ed Tuesday.

Why it matters: By announcing the summit, the Biden administration is trying to depoliticize an issue that some of the president's advisers worry will hurt them with suburban parents.

What they're saying: "The Department of Education will host a national summit on safe school reopening this month that will bring students, teachers, families, community organizations, and school leadership together not only to get the critical feedback we need to make reopening as seamless as possible for students and staff, but also to work together to solve problems," Cardona wrote.

  • "We’ll also talk about and hear from leaders about addressing the academic, social and emotional needs of students. Because it’s not just enough to get our students physically back to school. We have to support them," he added.
  • "Under my leadership, the Department of Education (ED) will take a problem-solving, solutions-oriented approach to working with schools, educators, and families to get students back in the classroom full-time."

Between the lines: The administration is trying to make Cardona and Dr. Jill Biden the public faces on the school issue, which has pitted unions against some parents, with the two of them traveling to Connecticut tomorrow, as Axios reported yesterday.

The big picture: More than 72% of K-12 students are now attending schools that offer in-person or hybrid models of learning, Axios' Marisa Fernandez reports.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in February it is possible for schools to conduct some form of in-person learning even with various levels of community spread with proper precautions in place.

Go deeper

Senate confirms Miguel Cardona as education secretary

Photo: Susan Walsh/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate voted 64-33 on Monday to confirm Miguel Cardona as President Biden's education secretary.

Why it matters: Cardona will play a key role in the Biden administration's efforts to safely reopen schools currently closed to in-person learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden has pledged to reopen schools within his first 100 days, but some are skeptical he will be able to meet this goal.

Jill Biden staffs up, hits the road

Jill Biden waves before she and the president fly to Texas last week. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Jill Biden will travel to Connecticut and Pennsylvania on Wednesday with newly confirmed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, a testament to a first lady well on the move.

Why it matters: Biden already is the only first lady to hold a full-time job. She also has a portfolio focused on education, cancer and veterans' issues. Now, she’s built a robust staff in the East Wing and is planning a busy travel schedule of her own.

Burnout, money, concern drive Harris turnover

Vice President Kamala Harris and another potential 2024 presidential candidate, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, appeared together Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Burnout, better opportunities and concern about being permanently branded a "Harris person" is driving some of the turnover in Vice President Kamala Harris's office, people familiar with the situation tell Axios.

Why it matters: Harris is not only a heartbeat from the presidency but, by virtue of her office, the presumed 2024 frontrunner if President Biden doesn't seek re-election. There's been an inordinate amount of disarray — and, now, turnover — throughout her tenure.