WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden believes America’s teachers should be a priority in getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, but he will listen to scientists’ recommendations on a comprehensive approach to reopening schools, the White House said on Tuesday.
“He believes that teachers should be a priority on the vaccination list – he has supported that,” White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said in an interview with MSNBC.
“He believes that teachers should get their vaccines, but he’s listening to the science, and there are a number of important steps that we need to take to ensure that schools can open and open safely,” she said. “Vaccines are one piece of it.”
Official guidance for reopening American schools will likely come later in the week from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Bedingfield said.
School reopenings have become a hot topic across the nation. District officials, teachers, parents and health professionals have been debating when and how to safely reopen for millions of students who have been taking classes remotely for 11 months since the pandemic closed schools last spring.
Educators in major cities, including Chicago and Philadelphia, on Monday called for strong COVID-19 safety protocols in their classrooms as those and other districts pushed to reopen.
“There are a number of important steps that we need to take to ensure that schools can open and open safely. Vaccines are one piece of it,” Bedingfield said. “There needs to be masking, there needs to be room for social distancing, so those mitigation measures are just as important.”
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)