President Joe Biden hopes that by the end of his first 100 days in office, a majority of elementary schools would be open five days a week, restating his target after his administration came under fire when aides suggested schools would be deemed open if they had only one day a week of in-person instruction.
During a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Biden’s remarks marked his clearest stance yet on school reopenings. In December, Biden had vowed to reopen “most of our schools” in his first 100 days, but since then, with school districts functioning under a patchwork of various virtual and in-person learning arrangements nationally, he has faced increasing questions about how he can define and accomplish that goal.
“I said that most schools in K are open through eighth grade, because they are the easiest to open, the most necessary to be open in terms of the impact on children and families who have to stay home,” Biden said.
“He said White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s comments earlier this month that one day a week of in-person learning would fulfil his goal was “a communication error.
Asked when the nation will see kindergarten back to in-person learning five days a week through eighth grades, Biden said, “At the end of the first 100 days, we will be close to that.” He said he believed that several schools would strive to remain open during the summer, but suggested that reopening might take longer for high schools due to a higher chance of older students becoming infectious.
The town hall focused on a number of coronavirus-related topics, from protections for small businesses to vaccination plans for the administration. Biden said 600 million doses of the vaccine would be available by the end of July, enough to vaccinate every American.
But he sought to highlight the need for funding to accomplish his goals in several of his responses. The purpose of the town hall was to market his $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package directly to the American people, part of an initiative partly designed to place pressure on Republican lawmakers and refocus Congress on swift passage of the bill now that the impeachment trial of his predecessor is behind him.
On Tuesday night, Biden underlined how much he wants to step past Donald Trump, constantly refusing to talk about the former president and at one point saying, ‘I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump.’
“All that’s been in the news for four years is Trump. I want to make sure all the coverage is about the American people for the next four years,’ he said, to the audience’s applause.
Biden also gave a glimpse of the centrist position during the town hall that helped win him purple states like Wisconsin in 2020. He rejected the proposal of a questioner for his administration to accept the radical aim of forgiving student loan debt of $50,000, reiterating his commitment to forgiving only $10,000. One of the ways he suggested to improve policing was to provide police departments with more funding, countering calls from some progressives to defund the police. He also said that he was optimistic about legislation being passed to study police reforms.
He also weighed in on the immigration bill that is expected to be unveiled this week by his administration. Biden claimed that for any bill he would support, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants was essential, but also suggested that he would be open to a piecemeal approach to immigration reform rather than a comprehensive bill, if necessary.
There are things I’d do on my own, but not at the expense of saying that I’m never going to do something else,” he said.”
Since the inauguration, Biden appeared to revel in his first opportunity for extended interaction with ordinary Americans. Biden told the girl that kids are less likely to get infected by a second-grader who was unable to go to school and was worried about getting the virus, adding, “I wouldn’t worry about it, baby, I promise you.”
He also provided an intimate account of living in the White House, expressing his discomfort with being tended to by employees. “With the White House living under his belt for about a month, Biden joked that he would wake up in the morning, look at his wife, Jill, and ask, “Where the fuck are we? ”
Biden stressed that there is already wide public support for his massive virus aid bill, and noted that some analysts have argued in favour of significant government spending to help boost the economy.
‘Now is the time we ought to spend,’ said Biden.
It is expected that the House will vote next week on the measure.
About 90 minutes before the evening programme, Biden landed on a slick, snow-covered asphalt in below-freezing weather. He took questions from a small audience of Democrats, Republicans and independents invited to the historic Pabst Theater for a small, socially remote gathering.
A political battleground state he narrowly won last November, Biden’s trip to Wisconsin comes as coronavirus infection rates and deaths are declining after the country experienced the two deadliest months of the pandemic so far. After a slow start, the White House is also reporting an increase in vaccine administration throughout the country.
But Biden has emphasised that as thousands of Americans die each day in the worst U.S. public health epidemic in a century, the country still has a long path ahead. The virus has killed more than 485,000 people, and the response effort is complicated by newly emerging strains.
In order to achieve “herd immunity,” the Biden administration is trying to get enough Americans vaccinated and allow life to return to a semblance of normalcy. But when the vaccine will be widely available to Americans, it’s unknown.
Biden’s team hopes that funding included in the coronavirus aid bill would help speed up the development and delivery of vaccine. His team also argues that to help people who struggle economically and to bring the nation back to pre-pandemic job levels, the federal government must keep open the spigot of government relief.
However, many GOP politicians continue to bristle at the price tag of a package that calls for most Americans to send $1,400 checks as well as support for businesses, colleges, homeowners and tenants.