President Joe Biden has been criticized by members of his own advisory board for the push to vaccinate teachers and reopen schools five days a week within his first 100 days in office.
In February, Biden said his 100-day goal was to have most elementary schools open five days a week, seeming to conflict with his own press secretary, who had said last week that schools would be considered “open” if they held in-person classes even one day a week.
A report from the Hill said the plan “uses the administration’s partnership with pharmacies to prioritize giving educators at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine this month.” Biden added, “educators should be treated like essential employees.”
On Tuesday, Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of the Biden coronavirus advisory board, said, “It doesn’t make any sense,” referring to the Biden administration wanting to prioritize educators, as part of an effort to reopen schools. Gounder added that high rick teachers would be vaccinated as part of other groups like “over 65 years old” or “chronic medical conditions.”
1/ I am really surprised. This doesn’t make any sense. High-risk teachers (i.e. over 65 and/or with chronic medical conditions) would be vaccinated as part of those groups. Young, healthy teachers don’t need to be prioritized. Schools are among the safest in-person workplaces. https://t.co/DOwlqfMieX
— Céline Gounder, MD, ScM, FIDSA (@celinegounder) March 2, 2021
“Retail pharmacies told to prioritize vaccinating teachers but not getting extra supply. This means taking vaccine away from higher-risk persons & communities of color to vaccine young healthy teachers. This is an ANTI-EQUITY move,” Gounder tweeted.
On Tuesday, White House senior adviser on coronavirus response Andy Slavitt was asked by Wolf Blitzer if Biden’s announcement to give every educator and childcare worker at least one shot by the end of this month would move up the time to having kids back in school full time. Slavitt responded:
Well, his goal is to get kids back to school safely, as early as possible, and permanently. And the CDC has helped a great deal with guidelines that help schools figure out what it takes to open. And while the CDC has said teachers aren’t required to be vaccinated for the schools to open in-person, the president made the decision that we can use this new capability we have.
On Wednesday, Senior Adviser and Chief Spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris Symone Sanders joined Joy Reid on MSNBC’s The ReidOut. Sanders stated that both Biden and Harris “believe that teachers should be prioritized in states to get the vaccines, just like frontline workers, and they also agree with the CDC guidance, that that is not a requirement for schools to get open.”
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