Biden Chief of Staff hotly defends teachers’ unions refusing to reopen schools


White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain aggressively defended teachers’ unions as they refuse to resume in-person teaching even though studies now show a low risk of spreading the coronavirus among students. This follows a number of school districts canceling reopenings due to concerns over the pandemic.

CNN’s Erin Burnett asked Klain on Tuesday why he thought so many public schools were still closed despite studies backed by the CDC that continue to show it is safe for K-12 schools to reopen. His response was stunning. “I’ll give you a word: money,” Klain stated. “That’s why the president of the United States sent a plan to Congress even before he took office to make the investments you need to make the schools safe.”

Klain went on to point out “sizable grants” that schools in a CDC-touted study received. “President Biden has sent a plan to Congress that will make sure that the majority of our schools can be reopened in 100 days. … Sadly, it costs money,” Klain stated.

Burnett actually questioned Klain on his claims by telling him that the transmission of the virus was “just not happening.” After that, she gave the Chicago Teachers Union as an example. They just voted to extend virtual learning.

Burnett went on: “I mean, in Chicago, the teachers union voted this weekend to continue remote learning. They were about to open. The town of Montclair, New Jersey, this story came across, public schools were scheduled to reopen for hybrid learning. For elementary school kids, it’d be the first day of going to school in-person since March of last year, 10 months, but then they scrapped plans at the last minute after the local teachers’ union refused to return to classrooms. Ron, why do you think that the unions in many cases are overruling what the studies show?”

“I don’t think that teachers’ unions are overruling studies,” Klain retorted. “I think that what you’re seeing that schools haven’t made the investments to keep the students safe. I mean, again, the Wisconsin study were classrooms of 12 on average. So that requires a lot more classrooms, a lot more teachers, or, you know, other kinds of arrangements to get them small, podding students very carefully.”

“So we need to do the things to open safely. Most of the teachers I talk to, they want to be back in the classroom. They just want to know that it’s safe and we as a country should make the investments to make it safe,” Klain concluded.

Klain’s comments reflect those of President Biden on Monday, when he expressed support for the Chicago Teachers Union in its fight against reopening schools for in-person learning, stating, “I know they want to work.”

“They just want to work in a safe environment, and as safe as we can rationally make it, and we can do that,” the president continued.

Biden claims that widespread testing and functioning ventilation systems are necessary to reopening schools.


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