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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."

2 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.