President Biden said Tuesday night that teachers should move up in priority for getting vaccines, although he didn’t say whether he thinks teachers should be vaccinated before returning to the classroom. Mr. Biden’s own Centers for Disease Control has said teacher vaccinations are not a prerequisite for school reopenings.
During a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Mr. Biden said reopening schools entails making sure students and teachers have protective gear, organizing classrooms in smaller pods and prioritizing reopening grades K-8 because high school students seemingly transmit COVID-19 at higher rates. Mr. Biden also said schools might need to be open during the summer to make up for lost learning.
“It’s about needing to be able to socially distance, smaller classrooms, more protection and I think that teachers and folks who work in the school … should be on the list of preferred to get a vaccination,” the president said.
“I think we should be vaccinating teachers. We should move them up in the hierarchy,” Mr. Biden added.
Biden emphasized that support staff at schools should be on the list of preferred groups to get vaccinated.
The White House and the CDC haven’t always had their school reopening messaging on the same wavelength. Recently, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the CDC director was speaking in her “personal capacity” when she said vaccination of teachers isn’t a prerequisite for safely reopening schools. Psaki eventually walked back that comment.
Despite his views, Mr. Biden said he can’t require states to prioritize vaccinating teachers. Mr. Biden said he can “make recommendations” on prioritization groups, but said the decision is up to state leaders.
The president also said the U.S. will have enough vaccine supply for all adults in July, but noted that it will take longer than that to administer the vaccine to everyone seeking a dose.