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Biden adviser: President didn’t say ‘absolutely’ open schools in fall because virus is unpredictable

President Joe Biden hasn’t committed to K-12 schools reopening full-time and in-person in the fall, one of his senior advisers said Sunday, because the coronavirus remains unpredictable.

“He said ‘probably.’ He did not say ‘absolutely,’ ” Senior Adviser to the President Anita Dunn told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “Because we’ve all seen this since unfortunately January of 2020. It’s an unpredictable virus. And it is a virus that has — you know it mutates. So we can’t look in a crystal ball and say what September looks like.”

Dunn’s comments come after Biden said Friday that K-12 schools “should probably all be open” in the fall for in-person learning after more than a year of challenges with remote learning and as more Americans get vaccinated.

“Based on the science and the (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), they should probably all be open. There’s not overwhelming evidence that there’s much of a transmission among these people, young people,” the President had said during an interview with NBC’s “TODAY.”

On Friday, the White House announced more than 100 million adults have been fully vaccinated in the US — a milestone in the push to end the coronavirus pandemic. And while the number of vaccinations is a promising sign, health officials say more vaccinations are crucial as variants continue to spread and vaccine hesitancy remains.

Clinical trial results of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine showed its efficacy is 100% in young people ages 12 to 15 and that group tolerates it well. Pfizer has asked the US Food and Drug Administration to expand the emergency use authorization to include those ages.

The CDC in February released highly anticipated guidelines for reopening schools that focus on mask wearing, physical distancing, washing hands, cleaning facilities and improving ventilation, and contact tracing, isolation and quarantine. Last month, the agency also made another recommendation that experts said would allow more schools to open. The CDC relaxed its physical distancing guidelines for children in schools to recommend most students maintain at least three feet of distance, down from six feet.

Dunn told Tapper if Americans get vaccinated against Covid-19 and if schools follow CDC guidelines then “we probably should be able to have them open,” encouraging people to seek medical advice before getting a vaccine.

“If they have doubts about it they should ask their doctor. They should ask people who have already gotten it. They should certainly do their own research,” she said.

This story has been updated with additional comments from Dunn on “State of the Union.”

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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