President Joe Biden stated that all schools for children up until 12th grade should ‘probably’ be opened by the fall.
His statement, made in an interview with NBC’s ‘Today’ show Friday, comes despite his acknowledgement that vaccines would not likely be provided to young children by that time – and following stepped up criticism by Republicans to tar him for parents suffering at home with school-age children.
‘Based on the science and the CDC, they should probably all be open,’ Biden told the network.
‘Based on the science and the CDC, they should probably all be open,’ President Joe Biden said Friday when asked about reopening schools
He cited a growing body of scientific evidence that child-to-child transmission is low in school settings there schools take steps to provide distancing, students wear masks, and other mitigation is in place.
‘There’s not overwhelming evidence that there’s much of a transmission among these people, young people,’ Biden added. He spoke as U.S. infection rates were finally on a downward trajectory amid increased vaccination rates – but with many public schools still closed or in ‘hybrid’ models to keep students apart.
He was responding to a question from NBC’s Craig Melvin, who asked: ‘Should all schools in the country be open this fall?’ The show tweeted out the exchange.
Health officials have raised the possibility that emergency use authorization could be available for children as young as 12 to take the Pfizer vaccine shot by the spring, but experts are still studying doses and effects on younger children.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) slammed Biden on schools in his response to Biden’s speech to Congress
A students checks his temperature at a check point at James Madison High School on March 22, 2021 in the Madison neighborhood of the Brooklyn
In this Oct. 20, 2020, file photo, students sit in a distanced pattern from their classmates during the coronavirus outbreak in a Kindergarten class at School 16, in Yonkers, N.Y.
Natalya Murakhver, a New York City Upper West Side mother of two started a GoFundMe to raise funds to hire a lawyer to sue New York City to reopen schools to in person learning 5 days a week.
Biden has faced pushback from teachers’ unions on reopening, but last month urged schools to reopen after the Centers for Disease Control released new social distancing guidelines with three feet of distance – making it much easier to get more kids into buildings.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott hammered Biden on the school issue in his GOP response to Biden’s speech to Congress Wednesday.
‘I’m saddened that millions of kids have lost a year of learning when they could not afford to lose a single day. Locking vulnerable kids out of the classroom is locking adults out of their future. Our public schools should have reopened months ago. Other countries’ did. Private and religious schools did,’ said Scott.
‘Science has shown for months that schools are safe. But too often, powerful grown-ups set science aside,’ he added. He bashed Biden’s $1.9 trillion covid relief bill for having ‘no requirement to reopen schools promptly.’
Some teachers are resisting returning to the classroom despite being vaccinated amid new variants and health concerns.
Biden in his own speech touted re-openings as a sign of hope.
‘Parents seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces, for those who are able to go back to school because the teachers and the school bus drivers and the cafeteria workers have been vaccinated. … It means everything. Those things mean everything,’ he said.
Biden last month urged schools and school districts to move quickly to reopen, as vaccines and new research came online.
‘My message is: Help is here,’ Biden said. ‘Help is here for schools to purchase PPE, hire additional personnel, like nurses, counselors, custodial staff, improve ventilation, sanitation, avoid educator layoffs and give students extra support,’
‘Help is here to help students make up for lost time and lost learning. Unless we act quickly, this pandemic could have a devastating long-term impact on our kids who have gone through this, including on their mental health,’ he said.
Biden set a 100-day goal of having half of all schools open for in-person learning.
According to Burbio, which tracks reopenings, about two-thirds of students are now attending public schools in-person. But many schools that remain closed to in-person learning are in struggling neighborhoods where educators fear students will be at a grave disadvantage.
U.S. public schools are controlled by local school boards, but many look to federal scientists and policymakers for guidance.