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Letters to the Editor— Feb. 4, 2021
WASHINGTON — President Biden is still not ready to press teacher unions and governors to reopen their schools despite his own CDC director saying in-person classes can be held safely without staff receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday told reporters that Biden wanted to reopen schools as soon as possible, but swiftly dismissed new data which found a limited spread of coronavirus within them.
“The President, let me be crystal clear, wants schools to open, he wants them to stay open and he wants to do that safely and he wants health and medical experts to be the guides for how we should do exactly that,” Psaki told reporters.
It is up to state leaders to send children back to classrooms, but President Biden has not urged governors or local leaders to do so, countering his vow to safely reopen a majority of K-8 schools in his first 100 days in office.
On Wednesday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said teachers do not need to be vaccinated in order to reopen schools.
“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen,” she said at the White House coronavirus briefing, adding, “Safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely.”
But on Thursday, Psaki claimed that Walensky was speaking in her “personal capacity” and said the White House was waiting for final guidance from the CDC.
“There should be no confusion, the President of United States wants schools to open, he wants them to stay open and that is key.
“That’s disruptive for teachers, for students, for families.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday told reporters that Biden wanted to reopen schools as soon as possible,Sipa USA
Calls a growing for public schools to open immediately for full-time, in-person classes after nearly a year of virtual learning.
Teen suicides are on the rise while some studies have found that kids will never make up the lost time and could carry the effects of a missed year at school for the rest of their lives.
Teachers unions in cities like Chicago, however, are advocating for continued at-home learning, defying an order to return to the classroom over concerns about COVID-19.
Earlier Thursday, former Big Apple Mayor Mike Bloomberg urged Biden to to “stand up” to unions and tell teachers to “suck it up.”
It’s time for Joe Biden to stand up and to say, the kids are the most important things, important players here,” Bloomberg said Wednesday on MSNBC.
“And the teachers just are going to have to suck it up and stand up and provide an education.”
Asked Thursday if Biden would choose the nation’s children or teachers unions, Psaki insisted the question was “a little bit unfair.”
“The President believes school should be open, teachers want schools to be open, families want schools to be open, but we want to do it safely,” Psaki said.
“I’m not sure that any parents in this country would disagree with wanting their kids to go to school in a safe environment, where there’s ventilation, or proper precautions are taken, whether it’s masks, or social distancing, and that’s his priority,” she said.
In his first week in office, Biden signed an executive order ordering the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to provide federal guidance on reopening, “with the goal of getting a majority of K-8 schools safely open in 100 days.”