Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, stated that, across the country, all schools are now safe enough to be allowed to stay open and that these American public K-12 schools are “more than equipped” to deal with any issues stemming from COVID-19 cases as Omicron spreads rapidly. Her comments were prompted by one reporter who put forth a request for an opinion from the White House concerning Chicago, which has been embroiled in a battle between the Chicago Teachers Union and the City officials concerning the return to in-person learning.
The CTU has issued many demands of the city of Chicago that are summed up by trying to force public schools to take steps to go back to virtual learning so that the health of the teachers could be maintained. In the wake of a vote held Tuesday evening being found in favor of continuing to maintain the out-of-school learning for the children. The Democrat Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, put forth a string of tweets that sought to get teachers to head back to in-person learning and took steps to maintain the idea that school would be going back to in-person on Thursday. This past Wednesday, Chicago took steps to cancel classes outright in order to keep students from having to start their year using remote learning procedures.
As negotiations were being held on Wednesday, Randi Weingarten, the American Federation of Teachers president, put forth the claim that Lightfoot should be “moving heaven and earth” in order to ensure that the schools are safer for the teachers. She also stated that there was no one that wanted to shut down schools or to shift back to not being in person.
“Across government, we are in regular contact with a range of stakeholders on the issue of school reopening and closures, including superintendents, state leaders, principals, teachers, parents, and other school staff and that is certainly the case now, today, this week, as the president is working — and we are all working — to keep schools open,” stated Psaki.
In response to being questioned about Old Uncle Joe’s opinion around in-school safety, Psaki stated that the White House does know that schools “can be open safely and we’re here to help make that happen and he agrees with medical, scientific, and education experts that because of the historic work we’ve done we are more than equipped to ensure schools are open and we’re going to keep our children and educators who selflessly serve their community safe but ensure that children are not enduring the mental health impact of not being in school.”
Psaki went on to add that “fortunately 96% of schools” were now staying open and attempted to give Biden credit for fighting “for 130 billion dollars in the American Rescue Plan for funding to schools to implement mitigation strategies including 10 billion dollars for testing which has already been distributed to states.”
“The Department of Education has also been providing technical assistance and resources for months now on everything from implementing mitigation strategies, to connecting schools with testing providers hosting vaccine clinics, and addressing pandemic mental-related mental health issues” claimed the Secretary.