CNN hosts Erin Burnett and Michael Smerconish, as well as analyst Gloria Borger, agreed Tuesday that President Joe Biden’s administration needed to side with either science or teachers unions when implementing policy on reopening schools.
During the broadcast of “Erin Burnett OutFront” the panel discussed Biden’s plan to reopen schools within the first 100 days of his administration. Burnett began by noting to Smerconish that teachers unions “pushed back” on the reopening plan, and asked how Biden should “walk the line” between unions and families when it comes to reopening schools. (RELATED: ‘Put Parents And Kids First’: Rep. Nancy Mace Says Biden Administration Wants To ‘Ignore The Science’ On Reopening Schools)
“People want to know two things. When am I getting a shot and when are the kids going to be back in school? And on both those issues, there has been a cloud. There’s been some confusion that has come from the administration,” Smerconish responded.
“I think the administration, on the issue you raise, is walking a very fine line because there’s a tempest brewing now, perception that unions have too much of the president’s ear, and parents who are saying, hey, it’s not enough the standard they have set … to be in school one day for part of the week … So I think he is very carefully balancing that line already,” he continued.
Teachers unions across the country have resisted returning to in-person learning, including one county in Virginia that decided to hire “classroom monitors” to watch children in place of teachers, and the Chicago Teachers Union refused to go back to school unless teachers received the coronavirus vaccine.
Burnett pointed out that the administration doesn’t “want to be forced to make a choice” between teachers and families, but that “it is becoming a fault line.” She then mentioned an epidemiologist that wrote an op-ed supporting the reopening of schools and saying that they “have empathy” for teachers, but that they’ve “had enough.”
“It’s a huge issue for parents. It’s a huge issue for women, in particular, who are dropping out of the workforce in huge numbers because they’re staying home to take care of their kids because they’re not in school,” Borger chimed in. “So it has all kinds of repercussions and Biden and his people understand this. I think part of the problem, quite honestly, is that the science disagrees sometimes about how safe it is or how safe it isn’t.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released updated guidance on Feb. 12 saying that schools can safely reopen. They stated that they are recommending in-person instruction resumes as long as certain precautions are met and there is not a high rate of community spread. The guidance also said that teachers do not need to receive the coronavirus vaccine in order to reopen safely.
“To your point, what the unions are demanding flies in the face of what CDC scientists, and other scientists, said are necessary, right? You’re pointing out that the issue they have here, if you’re going to be the administration of science, then you are going to have to say no to the unions on some of these issues,” Burnett said.
“That’s right. I mean, either you’re an administration of science, or you’re an administration governed by the unions, and if they disagree, you have to figure out where you’re going to stand, and you know that the population wants their kids back in school,” Borger concluded.