Joe Biden has stated his intentions to see America’s students return to in-person learning in schools in the coming weeks, although the Centers for Disease Control-provided guidelines that he cited have already been available for the last five months, as reported by Fox News.
In an interview with CBS shortly before the Super Bowl on Sunday, Biden agreed with the interviewer when asked if the mental health crisis caused by children not being back in schools constituted a “national emergency.” He announced that “our CDC commissioner is going to be coming out with science-based judgment within, I think, as early as Wednesday to lay out what the minimum requirements are” to return to in-person learning.
However, those very same CDC guidelines were first released in mid-September of last year. Among other elements, the proposal included a method for ranking individual schools based on three different risk categories of “medium,” “higher,” and “highest,” as determined by the number of confirmed coronavirus cases per 100,000 people within the previous two weeks.
Even though CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement to reporters that “there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki dismissed this assessment as Walensky simply speaking “in her personal capacity.”
Biden has said that his plan to reopen schools involves first passing his proposed coronavirus stimulus package, which includes ensuring that teachers are among the very first to get vaccinated. This has drawn accusations of caving to the demands of various teachers’ unions that have repeatedly refused to go back to work, even in defiance of local authorities such as mayors and governors. As such, he has faced criticism from his left flank by such figures as former New York City mayor and failed 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, who said that Biden should “stand up” to the unions and force them to go back to work.