by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A group of 66 House Republicans accused President Joe Biden of rejecting the scientific consensus that schools can safely reopen, a move they say harms American children.
Led by Rep. Jason Smith (R., Mo.), the lawmakers sent Biden a Thursday letter urging him to “follow the science” by pushing state and local leaders across the U.S. to reopen schools. The letter notes that there is “little evidence to show in-person instruction in classrooms contributes to the spread of COVID-19,” citing a January study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It also criticizes the Biden administration for contradicting top government scientists. After CDC director Rochelle Walensky said there are “increasing data to suggest that schools can reopen,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed the comment, claiming Walensky “spoke in her personal capacity.”
“Despite [Walensky’s] expert opinion, your White House continues to ignore the science,” the letter reads. “Our children are suffering, and it is time to allow them to resume their education with in-person instruction.”
The plea comes just hours after the White House clarified its promise to reopen schools within Biden’s first 100 days in office, with Psaki stating Tuesday that Biden’s goal is for a majority of schools to offer “some” in-person teaching “at least one day a week.” Both House and Senate Republicans quickly criticized the walk-back, the latest example of the GOP’s push to place the school reopening fight at the center of the 2022 midterm elections.
“The Biden Administration once again demonstrated that they have no intention of fulfilling the President’s promise to students and families,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) said in a statement. “Having 50 percent of schools offering in-person instruction one day a week is not what millions of parents and students across the nation think of as schools reopening.”