Biden Takes Back Psaki's Comments on School Reopening Goal After Backlash


President Joe Biden is promising a majority of elementary schools will be open five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office, clarifying his goal after his administration came under fire when aides said schools would be considered open if they held in-person learning just one day a week.

Biden’s comments, during a CNN town hall in Milwaukee on Tuesday, were his clearest yet on school reopening.

Biden had pledged in December to reopen “the majority of our schools” in his first 100 days but has failed to explain how he would define and achieve that goal, with school districts operating under a patchwork of different virtual and in-person learning arrangements nationwide.

“I said open a majority of schools in K through eighth 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 said.

He said comments by White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier this month that one day a week of in-person learning would meet his goal were “a mistake in the communication.”

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Asked when the nation would see kindergarten through eighth grades back to in-person learning five days a week, Biden said, “We’ll be close to that at the end of the first 100 days.”

He said he expected many schools would push to stay open through the summer, but suggested reopening would take longer for high schools due to a higher risk of transmission among older students.

The town hall touched on a range of issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, from relief for small businesses to the administration’s vaccination plans.

Biden said that by the end of July there would be 600 million doses of the vaccine available, enough to vaccinate every American.

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But in many of his answers, he sought to emphasize the need for funding to achieve his goals. The town hall was aimed at selling his $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package directly to the American people.

Biden repeatedly refused to talk about former President Donald Trump and said at one point, “I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump.”

During the town hall, Biden also resisted the progressive goal of forgiving $50,000 in student loan debt, reiterating his commitment to forgiving just $10,000.

He suggested one of the ways to improve policing is to provide more funding to police departments, running counter to calls from some progressives to defund the police.

He also weighed in on the immigration bill his administration is expected to unveil this week. Biden said a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens is essential to any bill he’ll support.

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Biden claimed that his massive virus aid bill already has broad public support.

“Now is the time we should be spending,” Biden said.

The House is expected to vote on the measure next week.

Many GOP lawmakers continue to balk at the price tag of a package that calls for sending $1,400 checks to most Americans as well as aid for businesses, schools and homeowners and renters.

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