Feb 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

White House sets target for Biden's plan to reopen schools

Photo of a masked Joe Biden speaking while gesturing with his hands

Photo: Pete Marovich/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing Tuesday that President Biden's goal to reopen most schools means reopening over 50% of schools for "some teaching" in person "at least one day a week." But they wouldn't necessarily fully reopen.

Why it matters: The White House's shift in language suggests Biden's original timeline was not realistic, as infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci noted earlier this month.

The big picture: School closures are a "national emergency," Biden told CBS on Sunday.

  • The president set aside $130 billion in aid for K-12 schools in his coronavirus relief package, aimed to provide protective equipment and improve ventilation, among other things.
  • About 35% of U.S. students are attending school online in full, per Burbio, a company that tracks school district calendars. 40% are in districts that offer full-time in-person instruction.
  • Digital divides, however, have worsened existing disparities.
  • Districts have increasingly moved from all-virtual to partial or full in-person instruction in recent weeks, according to Burbio.

Go deeper: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

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