On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki refused to answer whether the White House and her boss President Joe Biden believe that parents know what is best for children when it comes to their health — specifically as it relates to wearing masks all day in class as part of COVID-19 precautions.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy posed the question, as well as several follow-ups, trying to surmise exactly what the White House was trying to say about parental rights — but the best Psaki would say is that adults across America should trust the public health officials and that some who oppose mask mandates are only doing so for the sake of politics.
Seven school districts announced Monday morning they would be suing Governor Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) over an executive order that required all public k-12 schools to allow parents to decide whether their child had to wear a mask while in the classroom.
In light of that, Doocy asked, “So who does the president think knows best for students — school board members or parents?”
Psaki did not answer the question directly but instead regurgitated that Biden and his team firmly advise trusting the experts and that they know what’s best for everybody at school and elsewhere.
“Well, the president believes that public health officials have the best guidance on what we can all do to protect ourselves, including teachers, administrators, and students,” Psaki breathlessly said. “It’s been up to local school districts to determine how they’re going to approach what implementation measures they are going to put in place.”
“But here’s what we know from public health officials, who are the experts on a pandemic,” the Virginia resident and mother of school-age children continued, “Studies show that masks reduce transmissions in school. They are a proven tool that helps keep students and teachers safe from COVID, and they can thus help keep schools open and safe. In short, we know it works, and we need every leader to focus on using the tactics we know work to keep our students safe and our schools open.”
Psaki did not cite any specific data in her answer. Then, she compared Virginia to another state and claimed parents elsewhere were more concerned with politics than public health.
“I know you mentioned Virginia, but in Texas, the state is fighting a critical public health measure to protect our children and keep our schools safely Open. For headstart communities, one’s a provision that is requiring masks to keep students and keep communities safe. They’re fighting against that. Why is that?” she pondered. “I think that has more to do with politics than it does public health.”
Shortly afterward, Doocy pressed Psaki on whether students who do not wear masks should even be allowed in the classroom, but again, Psaki would not give a straight answer.
Noting a new law in Virginia that gives the right to choose, Doocy said, “So if a parent wants to send their kid to school with no mask, should that child be allowed to go to school and be in class?”
“Again, what we’re advising school districts on is to abide by public health guidelines and follow public health guidelines, and it’s about keeping an entire community safe, and those are the decisions that people should focus on making,” Psaki added.
“Just so it’s crystal-clear for anybody watching, you guys think that ultimately, in this conflict between school board members and parents, the school board members should have more of a say in what –” a confused Doocy inquired.
“That’s actually not what I said,” Psaki shot back. “I think everybody should abide by public health guidelines not just to keep their own kids safe, but to keep their school community safe, whether it’s teachers, classmates, administrators, others in schools.”
The exchange can be seen here:
Psaki lives in Arlington County, one of the counties suing Youngkin, and had previously personally thanked the school district “for standing up for our kids, teachers and administrators and their safety in the midst of a transmissible variant.”
Hi there. Arlington county parent here (don’t believe you are @GlennYoungkin but correct me if I am wrong). Thank you to @APSVirginia for standing up for our kids, teachers and administrators and their safety in the midst of a transmissible variant. https://t.co/6UeNIYoZCU
— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) January 17, 2022