White House Claims Schools Reopened ‘In Spite of Republicans’ during Pandemic

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday suggested Democrats reopened schools during the pandemic “in spite of Republicans.”

Jean-Pierre’s comment came in response to a question about a recent report showing that 9-year-old students lost ground in math and reading because of the pandemic.

Asked if the administration shoulders any blame for not pushing schools to reopen sooner, Jean-Pierre said: “Let’s step back to where we were not too long ago when this president walked into this administration, how mismanaged the response to the pandemic was.”

She then said schools went from “46 percent open to nearly all of them being open full time” in less than six months.

“That was the work of this president and that was the work of Democrats in spite of Republicans not voting for the American Rescue Plan which $130 billion went to school to have the ventilation to be able to have the tutoring and the teachers and be able to hire more teachers and that was because of the work this administration did,” she added. 

The press secretary said when Biden took office “schools were not open, the economy was shut down, businesses were shut down,” but failed to mention that is because of the president’s own party.

“It shows you how mismanaged the pandemic was and how the impact of that mismanagement had on the kids’ progress and academic well being,” she said, adding that “every Republican in Congress” voted against the American Rescue Plan and the administration had to “do this on our own.”

Meanwhile the Democratic National Committee ran an ad in July 2020 attacking former president Donald Trump for being “desperate to reopen schools because he thinks it will save his reelection.”

The ad accused Trump of “ignoring how the virus spreads and risking teachers’ and parents’ lives” and “going against the advice of experts.”

“Do you trust him to do what’s best for our children because this is not a test,” the ad asked. “Trump is failing.”

Biden and members of his administration also defended teachers unions’ refusals to return to in-person learning in January 2021 despite scientific evidence suggesting that little transmission takes place in classrooms.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain backed teachers’ objections to teaching in-person at the time, saying schools “haven’t made the investments to keep the students safe.”

The president similarly expressed support for the Chicago Teachers Union in its fight against reopening schools for in-person learning, saying, “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,” Biden said, adding that widespread testing and functioning ventilation systems are key to reopening schools.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Jean-Pierre offered a preview of Biden’s planned address on the “soul of the nation,” saying that the president will talk about protecting freedom and that those who disagree with him are “extreme.”

“When you are not with where majority of Americans are, then, you know, that is extreme. That is an extreme way of thinking,” she said.

She accused “ultra-MAGA Republicans” of being extreme by advocating for total bans on abortion and attacking democracy.

However, she claimed Biden’s speech will not be a political one.

“What we’re going to hear from him is how to move the country forward. That’s going to be the focus of the speech tonight,” she said. “It’s going to be optimistic, it’s going to be hopeful but it’s also going to lay out what’s going on currently in this moment.”

Excerpts released by the White House ahead of the speech revealed Biden plans to say: “MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards. Backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.”

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