White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to say whether President Joe Biden prioritized students or teachers when it came to reopening schools.
“If it comes down to a binary choice, who would the president choose? The kids or the teachers?” Fox News reporter Kristin Fisher asked during the White House press briefing on Thursday.
Psaki said Kristen’s question was “a little bit unfair” and claimed the president, teachers, and parents all agreed that schools should reopen.
Some teacher unions, however, have repeatedly protested attempts by city and state officials to reopen schools, claiming they remain unsafe during the coronavirus pandemic. A growing number of parents, however, want their children to return to school, citing scientific evidence to argue it is safe.
Republicans continue publicly voicing support for parents and students, knowing that President Biden and Democrats are more beholden to the teachers’ unions.
Psaki, however, indicated there should be no divide between reopening schools safely.
“We want to do it safely and I’m not sure that any parent in this country would disagree with wanting their kids to go to school in a safe environment,” she said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that vaccinating teachers is not a prerequisite for reopening schools safely.
“I also want to be clear that there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that … safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” she said.
The White House has reserved comment on Walensky’s statement, promising to comment once the CDC guidance was official.
“Dr. Welensky spoke to this in her personal capacity obviously she’s the head of the CDC, but we’re going to wait for the final guidance to come out,” she said.
Psaki said that even with vaccinations, the Biden administration would want schools to continue using mitigation steps such as masks, social distancing, and ventilation.
“There should be no confusion. The president of the United States wants the schools to open, he wants them to stay open,” she said, adding that the president wanted to ensure the “proper steps” were taken to keep everyone safe before doing so.