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President Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Tuesday night. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

President Biden on Tuesday sought to clarify what his administration means by promising to open schools in the first 100 days of his presidency, insisting that "the goal will be five days a week."

The big picture: Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden’s definition for open schools was in-classroom instruction by a teacher “at least one day a week.”

  • In a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Biden tried to reset the record, and appeared to blame his communications team.
  • “No that's not true. That's what was reported. That’s not true,” the president said, when asked about the one-day-a-week definition. “That was a mistake in the communications."

Why it matters: Republicans have pounced on Psaki's definition of open schools and accused Biden of backpedaling on his goal of reopening the majority of schools by the end of April.

  • Last week, Psaki also said that "the president will not rest until every school is open five days a week. That is our goal."
  • Tuesday, Biden also clarified why he changed his target from elementary, middle and high schools to just K-8.
    • "What I am talking about is, I said opening the majority of schools in K-8th grade, because they are the easiest to open, the most needed to be open because of the impact on children and families having to stay home."
    • "I think that we should be vaccinating teachers. We should move them up in the hierarchy," Biden added.

Flashback: Two weeks ago, some White House political advisers began to privately warn that Biden might not be able to meet his originally stated objective, Axios reported.

  • Republicans are trying to channel some suburban frustrations about virtual schooling into political anger, trying to cast Biden as a pawn of the teachers unions.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

No plans for Biden to address a joint session of Congress this month, White House says

Jen Psaki in the briefing room on Feb. 16. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

There are no current plans for President Joe Biden to address a joint session of Congress this month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Reporters pointed out that Biden said last month that his "first appearance before a joint session" would be held in February and would address his national coronavirus recovery plan. Psaki had said it "was never planned to be in February."

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.