“The president will not rest until every school is open five days a week. That is our goal,” Psaki said at a meeting at the White House.
Psaki said the government will follow the highly anticipated guidelines, which are expected to be released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on how to best reopen schools safely.
The White House was criticized by parents, teachers, students and local officials after Psaki said the goal was to teach face-to-face at least one day a week in most schools for the first 100 days of Biden. That marker fell short of what many had expected from Biden when he said his goal was to reopen most K-12 schools within his first 100 days.
How and when to safely reopen schools has become a national hotspot. Some parents are eager to get their children back into the classroom, and some teachers and unions are concerned about the possibility of Covid-19 infection.
A reporter asked Psaki on Thursday, “Can you explain to American parents that only one day of personal school is considered open schools? Why should they be satisfied with that?”
“They shouldn’t be,” said Psaki. “I can assure each parent that their goal is to make sure schools are open five days a week. That is what they want to achieve and we will be leading the way with the science and advice they give us.”
The CDC’s guidelines on school reopening describe five key strategies, including hand washing, masking, social distancing, cleaning and ventilation, and contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, CNN reported.
The guidelines do not suggest that employees need to be vaccinated, but rather describe vaccination as another “stratification” strategy as many schools were safely reopened before vaccines were available, an administrative official previously told CNN. The guidelines also suggest that screening can improve the detection of cases.
Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid proposal would include $ 170 billion for K-12 schools, colleges, and universities that could focus on mitigation efforts.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky suggested last week that schools could safely reopen without teachers being vaccinated against Covid-19. The White House initially distanced itself from Walensky’s comments, with Psaki saying Walensky was speaking “in her personal capacity”. But Psaki later appeared to agree with Walensky’s comments, saying vaccinations were only part of several mitigating factors helping schools reopen safely.
Some teacher unions are resisting reopening some schools because they fear teachers will be infected with Covid-19.
The Chicago Teachers Union has told its members they should be ready to go on strike if the school district takes retaliation against teachers who choose to continue teaching online as Dr. Janice Jackson, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, and other school officials say it’s time to get everyone on strike again.
CNN’s Lauren Mascaren contributed to this report.