Education secretary committed to in-person learning, expects 'bumps in the road'

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks with reporters at the White House

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Sunday signaled his resolve to maintain in-person learning amid the most recent surge in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant, but acknowledged there will likely be some "bumps in the road."

"We've been very clear, our expectation is for schools to be open full time for students for in-person learning. We remember the impact of school closures on students last year, and our science is better, we have better tools, we have $10 billion in the American Rescue Plan for surveillance testing," Cardona said while appearing on "Fox News Sunday."

"We recognize that there may be some bumps in the road," Cardona added, noting that many superintendents across the U.S. are reporting that 5 to 10 percent of their staff may not be available due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.

Many students are expected to return to school this week after going on break for the holidays. Parents and officials have expressed concerns about sending kids back to classrooms as the highly transmissible omicron variants surges.

Cardona stressed that keeping schools open amidst the most recent surge would be the preferred plan of the Department of Education, saying it would be the department's "plan B and plan C" going forward.

While the Education secretary praised teachers' ability to "turn on a dime" when they moved to remote learning, he stated that hybrid learning had a "very real" impact on parents.

Fox News Channel's chief breaking news correspondent, Trace Gallagher, also asked Cardona for his thoughts on school districts issuing vaccine mandates.

"I've always said vaccination decisions need to be made at the local level and at the state level. But we know over the last year and a half in those places where vaccination numbers are high, there's less disruption. There are less students in the hospital," said Cardona.