Symone Sanders, the chief spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, repeatedly dodged a question Wednesday from CNN host John Berman on whether or not teachers need the coronavirus vaccine in order for schools to safely reopen.
Berman began the interview on “New Day” by noting to Sanders that President Joe Biden’s administration expects schools offering kindergarten through eighth grade will be open five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office, and then asked if the president thinks K-8 schools could be reopen even if teachers have not been vaccinated. (RELATED: ‘There’s A Tempest Brewing’: CNN Panel Says Biden Administration Must Choose Between Science And Unions)
“The president and the administration’s position is that by the end of the first 100 days … the president and vice president do believe that the majority of K through 8 schools will be able to be reopened and operating safely … by the end of late summer … September, it is his hope that schools would be operating and open safely all over this country. And the way that we get there is by passing the American Rescue Plan,” Sanders said, not answering Berman’s question on teachers.
“It’s not a trick question, and I feel like you guys have treated it like a trick question. I think people just want to know what the White House position is on whether or not teachers have to be vaccinated for kids to return safely to school,” Berman responded. “The CDC director Rochelle Walensky says the science is that teachers don’t necessarily have to be vaccinated for kids to return. And I think people want to know what the White House position is on that.”
“The White House position is that, and the president and vice president believe, that teachers should be prioritized for receiving the vaccination, along with other frontline workers. And in at least 22 states and the District of Columbia, that’s exactly what’s happening,” Sanders answered.
Berman pointed out that there is wide agreement that teachers should be prioritized, but then asked again if it was necessary. “It really is a yes/no question,” he said.
Sanders followed by saying that she thought “the real question” is if it’s safe for kids to go back to school.
“Actually not,” Berman interrupted, “In this case that’s not the question. The question is, is it safe for teachers to go back to school. That’s a very specific question in this case. And again, I’m not sure — I don’t understand why it’s a hard question to answer.”
“Well, John, I think the president has been clear, the vice president has been clear, and I think I was really clear just now. It is the administration’s position, the president and vice president believe, that teachers should be prioritized for vaccinations,” Sanders said, continuing to dodge. “And in 22 states, at least, and the District of Columbia, that’s exactly what is happening. You know, look —”
Berman interrupted again saying, “I’ll try one last time. Does the president feel that teachers have to be vaccinated in order for schools to open safely? Yes or no?”
Sanders responded, still refusing to answer the question, saying that Biden believes that “teachers should be prioritized for vaccination” and that they want to get students in the classroom safely and operate “according to the science.”
“Not going to get a yes or no on that,” Berman concluded.
Harris appeared on the “Today” show on Wednesday and also repeatedly dodged questions about whether or not teachers can safely return to school without being vaccinated.