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Biden Says He Wants Most K-8 Schools Open 5 Days A Week By His First 100 Days

President Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wis., Tuesday evening.
Saul Loeb
AFP via Getty Images
President Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wis., Tuesday evening.

At a CNN town hall on Tuesday evening, President Biden said his goal is to open the majority of K-8 schools by the end of his first 100 days in office. Asked to clarify what he meant by "open," Biden said "I think many of them five days a week. The goal will be five days a week" in person.

He said he would focus on K-8 schools because they're the "easiest to open" due to the relatively low transmission rate of the coronavirus between children.

His response contradicts what White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week — that the president's goal was to have the majority of schools open at least one day a week in person in the same time frame, without specifying K-8. Biden dismissed the discrepancy as a "mistake in the communication." Psaki has also said Biden eventually wants schools open five days a week, without giving a time frame.

The topic of COVID-19 was a persistent theme throughout Tuesday evening's socially distanced Milwaukee town hall event, which included about 50 attendees from the state of Wisconsin.

Biden said that in order to safely reopen schools, teachers should be given a higher priority for the vaccine, as well as other staff members like lunchroom workers and custodians.

He also reiterated that by the end of July, he expects there to be 600 million vaccine doses available — enough for every American.

When asked when Americans could expect for things to return to a pre-pandemic state of normalcy, Biden hedged, saying he did not want to over promise on the subject.

"By next Christmas, I think we'll be in a very different circumstance, God willing, than we are today," Biden said. "But we don't know. So I don't want to over promise anything here. I told you when I ran and when I got elected, I will always level with you."

Biden's predecessor, former President Donald Trump, who last week for the second time avoided an impeachment conviction in the Senate, also came up during the town hall.

Biden mostly declined to discuss the Republican, saying Trump had been in the spotlight enough during his term in office.

"Look, for four years all that's been in the news is Trump. The next four years I want to make sure all the news is the American people."

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Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.