Harris: We’ll Defer to Health Experts and Teachers’ Unions on Elementary School Openings

During an interview with CNN on Thursday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said that the Biden-Harris administration will defer to both health experts and teachers’ unions on opening elementary schools.

Host Jake Tapper asked, “Madam vice president-elect, most health experts, including Dr. Fauci, agree that elementary schools should be the last thing to close. Bars should close. Restaurants should close. But elementary schools should be the very last one. … But there are many teachers and teachers’ unions who are advocating for remote-only education to stick around because they are afraid, understandably, of getting the virus. Will the Biden-Harris administration defer to the health experts or to the teachers’ unions when it comes to elementary schools?”

Harris responded, “I think it’s a false choice. Both. Both. The public health experts, of course, must be leaders in this conversation. Because we’re having the conversation because of a public health epidemic, a pandemic. So, they must help inform the decisions. But our educators are our educators. They are on the front line. They are most knowledgeable about the educational needs of our children. So both have to be participating in that conversation. But let’s start from this place: Everyone wants our kids to go back to school. Every parent wants their kids to go back to school. Every teacher wants to educate those children. Every community benefits from those children getting an education. So, there is wide consensus about the priority and the goal, and then we have to bring everyone together around how we achieve that in a way that is smart, and smart is about being — prioritizing the safety of our children and their teachers and their families and their communities and prioritizing the education of our children.”

Joe Biden agreed with Harris and added that safely opening elementary schools will cost around $100 billion, but states don’t have that kind of money, “and that’s a federal government responsibility short-term, which will have a long-term, positive impact on growth and on the mental health and the educational capacity of our children.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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