Vaccinating teachers is not a requirement for reopening schools to in-person classes five days a week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Wednesday.
Psaki’s statement comes after weeks of confusion over President Joe Biden’s plan to reopen “most” of America’s schools within his first 100 days in office. The confusion appears to be ongoing as well, with Vice President Kamala Harris declining three times Wednesday morning to say that it is safe for teachers to return to schools without vaccinations. (RELATED: Parents’ Lawyers Warn Teachers’ Union That Legal Action Will Follow If They Participate In Another ‘Union-Organized Sick-Out’)
Reporters asked Psaki whether it was possible to open schools five days a week without teacher vaccinations at Wednesday’s press briefing.
“Neither the president nor the vice president believe it is a requirement,” Psaki replied. “The CDC guidelines included a range of mitigation steps, including vaccinations, as recommendations, but the mitigation steps also included steps like social distancing, the need for smaller class sizes, the need for sanitations.”
“Now, at the same time, the president and the vice president both believe that teachers should be prioritized,” she added.
Despite Psaki’s statement, Harris appeared on NBC’s Today show with Savannah Guthrie and declined three times to say that it is safe for teachers to return to in-person teaching without vaccinations. Harris did, however, mirror Psaki’s language that teachers should be a priority for vaccinations.
.@SavannahGuthrie pushes Harris – three times – to reassure teachers that it’s safe for them to return to school without vaccines but with public health measures per CDC.
Harris, repeatedly: “Teachers should be a priority.” pic.twitter.com/YlEyQ5zMF8
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) February 17, 2021
Psaki had said in early February that the Biden administration’s goal was to have “most” K-8 schools “open” within the first 100 days of Biden’s presidency, but clarified when pressed that schools could hold just one day of in-person classes a week. Psaki later walked the statement back and said five days per week is the goal. Biden himself rejected the one day per week plan during his CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Tuesday, calling the one day per week statement a “mistake in communication.”