Biden's plan, which was announced the day before, will require vaccinations for as many as 100 million Americans. It also seeks to increase virus testing. He said schools shouldn't be at risk of contracting the coronavirus if these measures are in place.
Biden stated that he wanted people to know that everything will be alright during a visit to Brookland Middle School in Brookland, just a short drive from Washington. "We are experts in keeping our children safe and our schools open.
However, the rising COVID-19 delta variant has cast uncertainty over the beginning of a new schoolyear -- sometimes prompting schools to close down after just a few days. It's not clear whether Biden's plan is sufficient to stop widespread disruption. Biden's plan is met with strong resistance from Republicans because he has very little authority over schools. Schools are usually governed at the local level.
His expanded mandate for vaccines requires that all employers employing more than 100 people must make it a requirement to have them get shots or test positive for the virus every week. Another provision mandates vaccines for Head Start workers and schools run by the federal government. This affects approximately 300,000.
Although the plan doesn't explicitly require vaccinations for teachers at locally managed schools, some education leaders believe that the employer rule will be equivalent to a requirement for teacher vaccines in many states.
This part of the plan will be implemented by a rule coming out from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. According to AASA, an association representing school superintendents, teachers in OSHA states will need to be tested or vaccinated.
It is expected that it will apply to 26 states, with many having Republican governors who opposed Biden’s plan such as South Carolina and Tennessee.
Biden didn't address this aspect of his plan Friday. He urged states to develop their own vaccine requirements and school workers.
Biden stated that about 90% of teachers and school staff are currently vaccinated. We should have it at 100%. "I am urging all governors to mandate vaccination for teachers and staff."
A few states, such as New Jersey, California, Oregon and New York, have already given orders to their governors for teachers to be vaccinated. Most states leave this up to the school districts and some Republican-led states have banned vaccine mandates.
Biden rebuked Republican governors on Friday who had vowed not to follow his new rules.
He said, "I am so disappointed that some Republican governors were so cavalier about the health of these children, and so cavalier about the health of their towns," "We are playing for real here. This is not a game.
His remarks were more conciliatory than his Thursday speech, in which Biden expressed his frustrations with the unvaccinated. On Friday, he reverted to a message promoting unity and stating that "we have to work together" in order to defeat the virus.
Biden praised those who were vaccinated when he spoke to Brookland students. Biden said that if all the students get shots, he would invite them to a White House special visit.
Washington, D.C. was also a model for him. Biden stated that the city has hosted vaccination clinics in its public schools. Approximately 65% of children aged 12-17 have received at least one shot. This rate is among the highest in the country.
Biden appealed to America's parents to ensure that their children, including teenagers, are vaccinated promptly. Biden argued that it is no different from standard vaccinations for measles and mumps as well as other diseases.
His plan is most at risk because of the large number of children still too young for the shot. The majority of children in elementary and middle schools are below 12 years old, so they have not been granted the coronavirus vaccines.
Biden addressed those concerns and said that he supported an independent scientific review of the shots, but also promised to make them accessible to younger children when it's safe.
He stated, "I will do all I can to support the Food and Drug Administration's efforts to do science as safely and quickly as possible."
Students are not eligible for the expanded vaccine mandate, but some districts require students to have shots. Los Angeles was the first major district to adopt a mandate for students 12 years old and older.
Biden's plan includes vaccines and a push to increase virus testing in schools.
There are many testing policies that vary from one school to the next. While some districts test all students in Los Angeles, others forgo testing. It's becoming increasingly difficult to find supplies for testing due to a national shortage of rapid tests.
The government has been working with the White House to increase supply of virus test and make them available at Amazon and Walmart. Biden stated that it will result in 300 million more coronavirus test, which includes some for schools.
Biden stated, "I want schools to set up regular testing programs so we can detect and isolate cases before the spread of disease,"
The plan was supported by the two largest teacher unions in the country, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. Both organizations have also supported vaccine mandates for teachers and school staff.
The National School Boards Association is another education group that supports the plan. It said it did so because it recognizes the dangers and abuses education leaders face over their public-health measures.
Jill Biden, the first lady, praised educators for their achievements over the past year while speaking alongside Biden. The first lady, a long-time professor at a community college, said that Americans have a responsibility to protect students when they return to school.
She said, "We owe them the promise to keep their schools safe." "We owe the science to them -- we owe unity so we can defeat the virus.