Back to school debate: White House criticized for messaging on when to get kids back in classrooms

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The back to school debate is brewing in Washington as lawmakers and the White House weigh in on when kids should get back into the classroom after being sent home last year at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said this week Democrats want children to be in school. The House Speaker also said she wants everyone to be vaccinated, but whether or not it’s required will depend on the location.

“Teachers should be vaccinated – I don’t know that they must be vaccinated before going in,” she said.

The White House has continued to face criticism for not giving a direct answer to that question. Vice President Kamala Harris said in an NBC interview, “we want them to go back to school” and President Joe Biden has said, “we should move them up in the hierarchy as well.”

The president said on CNN this week that his goal was to have most elementary schools open five days a week. That conflicts with his own press secretary, who said schools would be considered “open” if they held classes just one day a week.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki clarified that on Thursday.

“The president is committed to reopening schools five days a week as quickly as possible,” she said.

But Republicans like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio say they still don’t know the president’s position. Rubio tweeted a video of White House staff avoiding the question. The video ended with the message, “Quit dodging. Send kids back to school.”

Speaker Pelosi says there will be a vote on the next coronavirus relief package by the end of next week. She says it will include $130 billion for K-12 schools to reopen.

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