GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited a Grand Rapids school on Monday, Sept. 14. The West Michigan native met with students, teachers and staff at Sacred Heart Academy, a private Catholic school.
She talked during a roundtable discussion with school leaders, students, and parents on how the school reopened amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids is one of just a few districts to return to in-person learning in West Michigan.
"Kids need to be in an environment that’s working for them," said DeVos during the discussion, "We know too many kids today are stuck in, or assigned, to schools that don’t work for them. That’s becoming more apparent as schools don’t open in person, and families are trying to find alternatives."
Sacred Heart Academy is a Parish Apostolate of Sacred Heart of Jesus and it does not receive federal or state funding. DeVos is a longtime advocate for school of choice. She touted the importance Catholic schools play in providing students with options for their education.
DeVos visited a 12th grade literature class at the school. There were seven students in the classroom spread out with one student per each two-person desk.
"Schools should be prepared to go back to school in-person, that should be an option for families," said DeVos, "We know for many families that’s the right choice for their child and children. What we have been doing from day one is supporting states and districts with as much flexibility as we can grant under law from the federal level."
DeVos said there is not one size fits all approach to operating in-person this fall. She encouraged local leaders to work with districts to decide the best situation for each district.
DeVos has been the education secretary since being nominated by President Donald Trump in 2017. DeVos is married to the former Amway CEO Dick DeVos.
DeVos also touched on the recent news a judge struck down a controversial rule that funneled CARES Act funds to private schools. When asked what's next, Devos said, "We’re talking about equitable services, which is the law at its core. When everything shut down, every child in America was impacted in some way. Our goal has been to encourage states and districts to work cooperatively and collaboratively with all education providers in their areas, to make sure students have what they need."
DeVos said the CARES fund was made to be used for cleaning, PPE and technology that enables schools and students to get back to learning in-person.
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