Vice President Kamala Harris repeatedly brushed off questions about school reopenings on Wednesday, applying her typical political spin instead of answering whether the Biden administration plans to actually follow the science and get children back in classrooms.
During NBC’s “Today,” Harris fumbled with host Savannah Guthrie’s questions about the Biden administration’s constant flip-flop on school reopening policies, from saying the goal should be the majority of schools open at least one day a week by the 100th day of the Biden administration to claiming the real goal is five days per week — and even more flips, as Guthrie noted.
“Our goal is that as many K-8 schools as possible will reopen within the first 100 days. Our goal is that it will be five days a week, and so we have to work to achieve that goal,” Harris said. “But our goal is the goal of parents, and I mean, here’s the thing, Savannah, I don’t need to tell you, the issue here is not just about statistics, it’s about our kids, it’s about their parents. It’s about the fact that every day our kids are missing essential, critical days in their educational development.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 17, 2021
When Guthrie asked Harris asked if it was a mistake that the CDC’s new guidance, which was created with the input of anti-science teachers unions, would keep 90 percent of schools closed for in-person learning, Harris simply claimed it has always been the White House’s priority to put the children first.
“In the last four weeks, schools are opening, every week more schools are opening,” Harris said. “And it is because we are supplementing what needs to happen around the vaccinations getting into states, but also because we are seeing progress, folks are wearing masks when they’re getting vaccinated, when they’re social distancing, we’re seeing progress there. … But we all want the schools to reopen, Savannah, all of us who have children in our lives. They want to go back to school, we want them to go back to school, teachers want to teach.”
But the new CDC guidelines, Harris clarified, are simply recommendations.
“What the CDC, what they have recommended are exactly that: recommendations about how to reopen safely if they’ve been closed, how to stay open if they’ve been opened,” Harris said. “Some recommendations include what, again, needs to happen around social distancing, hand-washing, mask-wearing. But the point is that we all want our kids to get back to school as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.”
While both the CDC and Anthony Fauci declared teachers don’t have to be vaccinated for schools to safely reopen, the vice president refused to respond to Guthrie’s consistent pressure to answer whether the Biden administration would declare that vaccines are not required for teachers to return to in-person teaching.
“Teachers should be a priority [to receive the vaccine] along with other front-line workers,” Harris said multiple times while rambling about how much she loved her teachers growing up.
She also tried to pitch the administration’s COVID relief bill as a way “to decide if we can put in place safe measures” for school reopenings. “The American Rescue Plan, which the president and I have proposed, is a plan about getting our schools back open,” Harris said.
While Harris acknowledged children are suffering because they do not have in-person instruction, she still danced around how the Biden administration would ensure their swift return to classrooms around the nation.
“We know, we have worked on this issue for years, around the fact that by the end of the third grade, if a child is not at third-grade reading level, they literally drop off,” Harris said. “So each day in the life of a child is a very long time, and that’s why we’ve got to collectively do everything in our power to reopen our schools as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.”