“And probably, most of the teachers would agree with that,” Anthony Fauci told CBS This Morning earlier today. Perhaps, but their unions certainly don’t, and it’s creating all sorts of mixed messages and confusion in the Biden administration. Teachers should get high prioritization for vaccinations, Fauci said, but to make universal teacher vaccination the “sine qua non” for reopening is just flat-out “non-workable.”
This topic picks up at the three-minute mark:
Politico notes that this puts the White House on the spot, especially after all the hemming and hawing that took place today with Kamala Harris and Joe Biden last night. Prioritization is fine, but so far the Biden administration has been loathe to tell teachers to get back to work:
“If you are going to say that every single teacher needs to be vaccinated before you get back to school, I believe quite frankly that’s a non-workable situation,” Fauci told “CBS This Morning.”
Fauci’s assessment on Wednesday of vaccination plans for teachers laid down a marker that others in the Biden administration have thus far been unwilling to match amid a heated debate over reopening schools. On CNN Wednesday morning, Symone Sanders, spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, repeatedly declined to answer directly whether teacher vaccinations are necessary to reopen schools, insisting instead that teachers should be “prioritized” for vaccination.
Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, agreed Wednesday that teachers should “absolutely” be prioritized among essential workers in vaccination efforts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines say that getting teachers vaccinated offers an “additional layer of protection” but that vaccinations for teachers shouldn’t be required for reopening in-person learning. Instead, the CDC’s guidelines for schools have emphasized social distancing and masking.
“You should try to get as many teachers as you possibly can vaccinated as quickly as you possibly can,” Fauci said. “But to make it a sine qua non that you don’t open a school until every teacher is vaccinated, I think is not workable, and probably most of the teachers would agree with that … You don’t want to essentially have nobody in school until all the teachers get vaccinated.”
The CNN interview between Berman and Sanders was really … something. Berman clearly got frustrated with Sanders’ dodging and weaving on the topic. Sanders insists she’s being “clear,” but the look Berman gives her speaks volumes. In the end, Sanders refuses to say whether the White House is backing the union demands for universal vaccinations first, and Berman closes out the conversation by noting, “Okay, we’re not going to get a yes or no answer”:
Fauci’s statement makes it even more clear that the White House doesn’t have a policy on this, because in reality they can’t enforce one. The federal government has no real role in deciding when schools open up; all they can do is recommend reopening. As I wrote earlier in the post on Harris, she and Biden made the commitment to reopen schools because they expected the unions to play ball and make them look good, essentially getting a win while doing nothing. Now that the teachers unions are balking, Biden and Harris have egg on their faces, and Sanders tried her best this morning to wipe it off.
This is another example of making promises without grasping the facts or the issues, following the Biden/Harris botches on vaccines and vaccinations. One or two more of these, and it will look like a pattern — and at least in this case, the media’s starting to notice it.