White House press secretary Jen Psaki tried to shrug off Republicans’ fingering the Biden administration as a prime culprit for schools struggling with reopening plans during the coronavirus pandemic.
“No polling I have seen has shown that is effective,” Ms. Psaki told reporters on Thursday.
Ms. Psaki had been asked about Republicans’ pivoting to the school reopening issue as a cudgel for the 2022 elections and blaming Democrats and President Biden for kids not returning to the classrooms.
She said Mr. Biden wants schools open five days a week and that his $1.9 trillion relief package will provide funds to help them reopen safely.
“The president, the vice president and this White House don’t see reopening schools through a political prism,” Ms. Psaki said. “We want to do it safely, and the president is committed to reopening schools five days a week as quickly as possible.”
Republicans point to Mr. Biden’s alliance with labor and teacher’s unions, who have resisted sending their members back to the classroom in some parts of the country over health concerns.
Mr. Biden and members of the administration have also given varying explanations on what constitutes in-person learning and whether teachers should be vaccinated before returning to the classroom.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released school reopening guidelines last week based in part on coronavirus transmission rates that could make it difficult for school districts to point to as justification for reopening safely.
The CDC said vaccinating teachers and school staff can be considered one mitigation measure but that it’s not necessarily a prerequisite for school reopenings.
“Even after teachers and staff are vaccinated, schools need to continue mitigation measures for the foreseeable future, including requiring masks in schools and physical distancing,” the guidelines said.