The Biden administration flip-flopped on its school reopening policy on Thursday, suddenly claiming it is devoted to getting children back into classrooms full-time.
During the Thursday White House press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters President Joe Biden’s plan, which is a drastic shift from the administration’s previous goal of only requiring half of the country’s children to return to in-person schooling for a minimum of one day a week by his 100th day in office, meaning students being back in classrooms for only five or six days total would meet the goal.
“The president will not rest until every school is open five days a week. That is our goal. That is what we want to achieve,” Psaki said Thursday, adding that parents shouldn’t be satisfied with only partial school reopenings.
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Psaki also announced the administration’s intent to “listen to the science” and follow the CDC’s guidelines for classroom learning, a sudden change of heart compared to just a few weeks ago when she and Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain misconstrued the results of a CDC study, which showed student and teacher COVID-19 transmission rates are relatively low, in an effort to appeal to teachers unions and other proponents of keeping children at home. It also follows Psaki’s denial of CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s suggestion that every teacher does not need to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for schools to safely return to in-person learning.
“The president wants schools to open safely and in accord with science, and we are going to listen to science and medical experts, the CDC guidelines,” Psaki said on Thursday. “We expect them to come out tomorrow, and we are eager to hear more about the clear science-based guidelines for opening schools and how we can do that safely and how we can keep them open.”
Psaki is not the first political figure to change her mind on COVID-19 school reopening policies. In November following the presidential election, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, finally began following the science on the low risk associated with children returning to in-person learning, suddenly urging schools to reopen.
“The default position should be to try as best as possible within reason to keep the children in school or to get them back to school,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.” “If you look at the data, the spread among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected, so let’s try to get the kids back, but let’s try to mitigate the things that maintain and just push the kind of community spread that we’re trying to avoid.”