President Joe Biden tonight clarified confusion on what would qualify as a school reopening, saying that reports that a school could be considered open if it was open just one day per week stemmed from a “mistake in the communication.”
Biden was responding to a question from CNN’s Anderson Cooper who asked, “your administration had set a goal to open the majority of schools in your first 100 days. You’re now saying that means those schools may only be open for at least one day a week.”
Biden then interjected saying there had been an error in how the standard was communicated.
“No, that’s not true,” he said. “That’s what was reported. That’s not true. That was a mistake in the communication, but what I’m talking about is I said opening the majority of schools in K through 8th grade because they’re the easiest to open, the most needed to be open in terms of the impact on children and families having to stay home. “
Biden’s incoming administration pledged last year to reopen “the majority of our schools” in the first 100 days, but later White House press secretary Jen Psaki qualified that one day a week would count as a reopening.
“His goal that he set is to have the majority of schools — so, more than 50% — open by day 100 of his presidency,” she said. “And that means some teaching in classrooms. So, at least one day a week. Hopefully, it’s more.”
As of Monday, a total of 28 states plus Washington, DC, had started allowing all or some teachers and school staff to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
Though some states have announced they are prioritizing teachers, vaccine availability remains a concern across the country.
There are 22 states where teachers are still not eligible to receive the vaccine as a specific group — although some educators might fall into the current age group that state is vaccinating.
Some more context: The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday emphasized the need for masking and other mitigation measures in order to reopen schools safely, saying “we have work to do” as teachers, students and parents continue to struggle with Covid-19’s impact on education.
The CDC on Friday released its long-awaited guidelines for reopening schools that focus on five key Covid-19 mitigation strategies: the universal and correct wearing of masks; physical distancing; washing hands; cleaning facilities and improving ventilation; and contact tracing, isolation and quarantine. Vaccines and testing are not among the “key” strategies the agency lays out, calling them “additional layers” of Covid-19 prevention.
About 89% of children in the US live in a county considered a red zone with high levels of Covid-19 transmission under those new school opening guidelines shared by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, according to a CNN analysis of federal data.
Watch the moment: