The government's top public health experts have stated on the record, repeatedly, that it is safe to re-open schools without teacher vaccinations being a prerequisite. Even the new CDC guidelines, which are hugely disappointing and counter-productive (and evidently influenced by politics) in so many ways affirm that this is the case. Yet top Biden administration officials simply will not endorse this science -- dodging specific questions so awkwardly and clumsily that it's hard to conclude anything other than they are unwilling to cross powerful special interests in support of pro-science, pro-student policies. Reagan highlighted White House spokeswoman Symone Sanders dancing around this question on CNN to the point that the anchor called her out:
CNN calls out Biden official for dodging a question about reopening schools:— America Rising (@AmericaRising) February 17, 2021
"I don't understand why it's a hard question to answer." pic.twitter.com/2P5caUdbv1
Maybe that was just a flack getting her talking points confused. After all, Jen Psaki recently botched Biden's 'first 100 days' school re-opening goal, according to Biden himself. Here's the thing: I'm not sure Psaki misspoke. I suspect the administration doesn't really know what their position is. I think they're flailing to both say words that will sound reassuring to normal voters who want classrooms back open as soon as possible, while also not angering or pressuring a core Democratic constituency that also happens to be a reliable fount of major campaign dollars. Sanders was clearly not freelancing in her adamant refusal to answer a simple yes or no question, based on established science. NBC tried to get a straightforward response out the Vice President on the exact same question, and came up empty:
They're going to use the word "priority" until they're blue in the face, but they're not going to endorse their own CDC's view, shared by top doctors and scientists, that schools can open safely without teachers being vaccinated first. Incidentally, as I've been saying now for weeks, this isn't all speculative or hypothetical. Millions of American students have been in both private and public schools throughout the entire academic year, with great success. Reopening schools has proven to be overwhelmingly safe and successful, over and over again, in real life; not in theory. In-person instruction has been safe without teacher vaccinations, and without the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill that Harris insists must be passed in order to get schools back open. As we discussed yesterday, there are tens of billions of unspent dollars allocated for that very purpose from previously-passed legislation. And the vast majority of the "school" money earmarked in Biden's current bill won't be spent until 2023 and beyond. It quite plainly has nothing to do with safely reopening schools.
A follow-up question I'd love to see answered is this: Once teachers are 'prioritized' and vaccinated, should they then be required to return to classrooms (even though the CDC says they can already do so safely without the vaccine)? This may seem like a layup, but maybe not. Consider the pathetic farce playing out in northern Virginia, thanks to the unbelievable bait-and-switch demands of a local union:
FCPS is paying adult monitors to watch these students in schools while teachers, who got priority for vaccines, are sitting at home.— AG (@AGHamilton29) February 16, 2021
Absolutely insane. https://t.co/pYmcx8lWj0
Taxpayers are paying for vaccinated teachers to remain at home, while students sit and watch computers at their desks, chaperoned by generally non-vaccinated non-teacher adults, whose presence is also being funded by taxpayers. Madness. And who's to say the demands won't shift again?
New arg from teachers union allies — schools were unsafe to teach in before the pandemic. Expect to hear more of this.— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) February 16, 2021
“There is another truth that should not be ignored: Many schools were not healthy environments for human beings before the pandemic.” https://t.co/iLVWOuf8wx
That scraping sound you hear is the goalposts being dragged further away. And just to really hammer the point home: The Biden administration will not answer whether they accept the best science, as articulated by their own experts, on re-opening schools. The reasons are purely political. With so many students suffering in so many ways, people in power are dragging their feet deliberately. I never want to hear whining about "politicizing and ignoring science' from the faux 'pro-science' party ever again. I'll leave you with this, not that the White House seems to care about relevant data and established realities:
Our kids belong in school and Florida's decision to keep schools open was the right thing to do. When compared to other states of similar size, Florida has fewer pediatric cases per 100,000. pic.twitter.com/U1boNXKmAr— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 16, 2021
Dr. Anthony Fauci has made clear that students are safer from the virus in schools than in their communities writ large. Nearly 100 percent of Florida children have been offered in-person instruction this school year. Florida's COVID case rate among school-aged children is lower than other populous states in which the large majority of students have been kept out of classrooms. So the correct policy is not subtle. Political leaders, spurred by special interests, are rejecting it on purpose.