Biden education chief: Vaccines will likely not be mandatory for teachers

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President Biden’s Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Wednesday that vaccines will likely not be mandatory for teachers in order to reopen schools. 

“I think we’ve seen examples where schools can open safely and be effective. But we know that prioritizing vaccinations will only assist with that,” Cardona told Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News.

“Having the vaccination will help keep our doors open, not only about opening schools it’s really about making sure they stay open,” he added. 

Although Biden has been pushing for teachers to be prioritized for vaccines, neither Cardona nor the White House believe vaccinations will become mandatory.

“Neither the president nor the vice president believe that it is a requirement,” White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said back in February when asked if vaccinations of teachers were necessary for schools to reopen.

The Biden administration is aiming for all students in kindergarten through eighth grade to be back in school by the end of his first 100 days in office after many students have been moved to a virtual classroom due to the pandemic.

I feel very confident that we’re making the progress toward the goal,” Cardona said. “ Every day we’re hearing new examples of districts that are making it work. Because educators want their children back and they just want to make sure it’s done in a safe way.”

Parents and educators are concerned as research showed that elementary school and middle school students are falling behind in math during the pandemic and the number of failing grades received by students doubled in Virginia’s largest school system. 

“You know, our students have shown a level of resilience that is impressive. It’s inspiring, and we need to respond by reopening our schools safely, but when we do that we have to make sure that through this American Rescue Plan, we utilize those resources to provide intervention and support, not only with the academic, but I think almost more importantly, the social emotional needs that our students are going to come to school with,” Cardona said.

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