President Joe Biden argued that both teachers and parents had “anxieties” about reopening schools before the employees could get vaccinated.
Biden said that schools could reopen without all staff getting vaccinated, “but time and again, we’ve heard from educators and parents that have anxieties about that.”
He urged all states to prioritize the vaccination of teachers and school staff.
“Let’s treat in-person learning like an essential service that it is,” he said, urging states to get school staff “vaccinated immediately.”
Biden appeared aware of frustrated parents dealing with public schools closed to in-person learning.
“Right now, an entire generation of young people is on the brink of being set back a year or more in their learning,” Biden said, warning of “mental health concerns” among children.
He announced a federal vaccination effort to prioritize pre-K through 12th-grade staff vaccinations with at least one shot in March but cautioned against expectations.
“I want to be very clear. Not every educator will be able to get their appointment in the first week,” he said.
The president also called for Congress to pass his proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue plan that would provide $130 billion in spending to support reopening K-12 schools.
“We need the American rescue plan now,” he said.
He also asked Americans to keep wearing their masks to stop the spread of the virus.
“Please keep washing your hands, stay socially distanced, wear masks, keep wearing them, get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” he said. “Now is not the time to let up.”
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