President BidenJoe Biden Chief of the Intercept Office: Minimum wage was not a ‘high priority’ for Biden in COVID-19 relief South Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative method of execution Obama’s student, Seth Harris, to serve as employment advisor to Biden: report MORE It said Tuesday that it is asking all states to prioritize teachers for COVID-19 vaccines so that all teachers and school staff have received at least one dose by the end of March.
“My challenge to all states, territories and the District of Columbia is this: We want every educator, school staff member, child care worker to receive at least one vaccine by the end of March,” Biden said in a statement from the Casa White.
He noted that more than 30 states have already prioritized teachers for vaccines, but said he is using the “full authority of the federal government” to “direct all states to do the same.”
He did not elaborate on who that authority is, though he said the federal government will use its partnership with pharmacies across the country to allow teachers to get vaccinated at their local pharmacies throughout the month of March.
“Our goal is to do everything we can to help every educator get a vaccine this month, the month of March,” Biden said.
Biden has come under intense criticism from Republicans for not doing enough to urge schools to reopen, given evidence that they can do so safely with precautions like wearing masks and distancing.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a guide last month that teacher vaccinations “should not be considered a condition” of schools reopening.
Biden acknowledged this, but pointed to “anxieties” between teachers and parents.
“We can reopen schools if the right steps are taken even before employees are vaccinated, but time and again, we have heard from educators and parents who are anxious about that,” Biden said. “So, as yet another step to help accelerate the safe reopening of our schools, let’s treat in-person learning for the essential service that it is.
The boost for school vaccination comes as the supply of vaccines increases, alleviating shortages. Biden announced separately Tuesday that the country will have enough doses for every American adult by the end of May.