In early December, Joe Biden pledged “to bring the coronavirus pandemic under enough control to open most of the nation’s schools during his first 100 days as president.”
“It should be a national priority to get our kids back into school and keep them in school,” Biden said. “If Congress provides the funding, we need to protect students, educators and staff. If states and cities put strong public health measures in place that we all follow, then my team will work to see that the majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days.”
Earlier today, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Biden’s plan to reopen schools in his first 100 days, and what this would entail.
“Could you help us understand what the White House’s, or what the president’s definition of open schools is? Does it mean teachers in classroom teaching students in classroom or does it just mean kids in classroom with a remote screen? Help us understand,” a member of the press briefing audience asked.
Psaki responded, “Sure, his goal that he set is to have the majority of schools, so more than 50 percent, open by day 100 of his presidency. And that means some teaching in classrooms. So at least one a day week, hopefully it’s more. And obviously it is as much as is safe in each school and local district.”
Noting the subtle difference between Biden’s promise in December that “the majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days” and Psaki’s claim that he meant “some teaching in classrooms” at least “one a day week,” the reporter followed up.
“When you say ‘some teaching,’ you didn’t use the same majority qualifier there, you just said ‘some teaching’ in schools, some teachers in school, not the majority of teachers in school in the majority of classrooms,” they said.
Psaki responded, “Teaching at least one day a week in the majority of schools by day 100.” In December, Biden did not include such clarifying details when discussing “open” schools.
This is not the first time Psaki has appeared to walk back some of Biden’s initial campaign promises. After Biden “predicted every American who wanted a vaccine would be able to get one by springtime,” Psaki was forced to state one day later that the vaccine would not be widely available by then.
“What the president’s goal is, is ensuring that there’s greater availability in the spring,” Psaki said. “He will push his team…This is his focus every single day.”
“But the fact is, is every American is not going to be eligible this spring,” she added.