Harris says teachers should be given priority for COVID-19 vaccine
Vice President Harris on Wednesday emphasized the need for teachers to be given priority when it comes to receiving coronavirus vaccines.
During her first live one-on-one network interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on the “Today” show, Harris responded to the question of whether teachers should feel safe returning to school if they are not vaccinated.
“Teachers should be a priority,” Harris told Guthrie. “Teachers are critical to our children’s development. They should be able to teach in a safe place and expand the minds and the opportunities of our children. So teachers should be a priority along with other front-line workers, and we’re going to make them a priority.”
The vice president also stated that more than 20 states are taking measures to get teachers vaccinated. She also stressed the importance of providing schools with equipment to hold in-person classes safely.
“It’s going to be safer for our schools to reopen when we can get our schools the infrastructure — helping them with their ventilation systems, helping them create social distancing with barriers, the things that are necessary to get them back open in a safe way.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday said that vaccinations, however, should not be required in order for schools to reopen.
“Neither the president nor the vice president believe that it is a requirement,” Psaki said when asked about teachers being vaccinated before they return to school. She later reiterated Harris’s point, stating that “the president and vice president also believe that teachers should be prioritized. That’s up to states to determine.”
Recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that middle and high schools in areas of high transmission of the coronavirus should remain virtual unless they are able to “strictly implement all mitigation strategies,” fueling debates on the topic.
“Each day in the life of a child is a very long time,” Harris said in the interview. “And that’s why we’ve got to collectively do everything in our power to reopen our schools as quickly as possible, as safely as possible.”
President Biden has said that his administration’s goal is to return K-8 students to in-person instruction five days per week within his first 100 days in office.
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