CNN is in Rome with the latest on the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine suspensions

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, flanked by White House press secretary Jen Psaki, speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on Wednesday.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, flanked by White House press secretary Jen Psaki, speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on Wednesday. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wouldn’t say if the administration would support mandating vaccinations for educators before they could return to work.

“At this point vaccination is available for educators. I’m proud that the President prioritized educators to be vaccinated, because we know that when that’s not the case, it’s more likely that schools will close due to quarantining,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

In remarks earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced his administration would order states to prioritize educators in vaccination efforts, announcing he was “using the full authority of the federal government” to direct states to move teachers and school staff to the front of the line.

“We want every educator, school staff member and childcare worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March,” Biden said two weeks ago.

“It’s critically important that we vaccinate as many as possible, and we promote the benefits of the vaccination, to make sure we have safe school communities,” Cardona said. “So, the message really is, if you’re able to get a shot, get a shot and, you know, that’s a strategy to help keep our schools open.”

On getting kids back in the classroom: Cardona said Wednesday that if the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates its guidance to allow for less social distancing, it would potentially get more students in school. 

“If it does go to three feet, it’ll provide more opportunities, potentially for students to enter our schools, which is the goal,” Cardona said in a White House briefing. 

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said earlier on Wednesday that the CDC plans to issue new guidance allowing less social distancing in schools. Walensky said the agency is looking at studies that indicate physical distancing of 3 feet is sufficient to keep students and teachers safe in school.

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