school reopening

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is in a political firestorm over how and when to get more schools open amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Republicans seizing on confusion surrounding Biden's goal to reopen a majority of schools within his first 100 days to paint the president as beholden to teachers' unions at the expense of American families.

White House via AP

The increasingly heated school reopening debate is forcing President Joe Biden to balance two priorities: getting children back into the classroom and preserving the support of powerful labor groups that helped him get elected.

Following weeks of standoff in some cities and states where teachers unions are demanding vaccines as a condition of reopening, the issue came to a head Wednesday when Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said vaccination of teachers "is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools."

AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit

One of the questions surrounding the pandemic is when students should return to in-classroom learning. The answers are mixed, both here in Hawaii and in places from Chicago to California. It's also a matter of debate in Thailand, where most classes are moving ahead this week.

Saul Loeb/Pool via AP

WASHINGTON — The White House seating chart spoke volumes.

When the president convened a roundtable this week on how to safely reopen schools with coronavirus cases rising, the seats surrounding him were filled with parents, teachers and top White House officials, including the first and second ladies.

But the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, usually the leader of disease-fighting efforts, was relegated to secondary seating in the back with the children of parents who had been invited to speak.