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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden dismissed a CBS News reporter on Friday after he asked about his plan to get kids back into classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The testy exchange occurred as Biden and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris were concluding a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calf.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in Wilmington, Del.
“In my Oval Office, mi casa, you casa,” Biden, who turned 78 on Friday, can be heard telling the two Democratic congressional leaders.
An aide to Biden then asked the assembled press pool to leave after the photo op between the Democratic leaders.
At that, CBS News reporter Bo Erickson, who has been covering Biden during his campaign, asked a question.
“Mr. Biden, the COVID task force said it’s safe for children to be back in class,” he says, as he and other reporters are escorted out of the room.
Erickson then asked if Biden will encourage the teachers’ unions to go along with recommendations to put kids back in classrooms.
“Why are you the only guy that always shouts questions?” Biden said in response without answering the query.
Erickson documented the exchange on Twitter.
“Asked Biden if he will encourage teacher unions to cooperate to get kids back in school because the COVID task force said it is safe to be in the classroom. He didn’t answer,” Erickson wrote.
Asked Biden if he will encourage teacher unions to cooperate to get kids back in school because the COVID task force said it is safe to be in the classroom. He didn't answer.
“Why are you the only guy that always shouts out questions?” he said. pic.twitter.com/x2DsG5Fmgo
— Bo Erickson CBS (@BoKnowsNews) November 20, 2020
Teachers’ unions, most of which support Democrats, have been pushing back at calls to return to in-person instruction, claiming that COVID-19 puts their members at risk.
But during a Thursday press conference, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield said schools were “one of the safest places” for kids and teachers.
“Today, there’s extensive data that we have—we have gathered over the last two to three months—to confirm that K-through-12 schools can operate with face-to-face learning and they can do it safely and they can do it responsibly,” Redfield said.
“The infections we’ve identified in schools when they have been evaluated were not acquired in schools. They were actually acquired in the community and the household,” he added.
“The truth is, for kids K-12, one of the safest places they can be, from our perspective, is to remain in school, and it’s really important that following the data, making sure we don’t make emotional decisions about what to close and what not to close,” the CDC director continued. “I’m here to say clearly the data strongly supports that K-12 schools—as well as institutes of higher learning—really are not where we’re having our challenges.”
Nevertheless, schools in many parts of the country have shuttered after initially opening in to begin the 2020-21 school year in late summer after spikes in COVID infections in their communities.
“We must find a way to alleviate that stress without ignoring the fact that our nation faces the very real and deadly virus,” said Elinore F. McCance-Katz, the assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, who said keeping schools open is vital to kids’ mental health and stability.
“The work of schools and the school personnel do daily is valuable beyond any words I can deliver. In addition to education, schools provide their children a profound sense of security and stability for the structure and safety of schools are an integral role of health,” she said.
As for Erickson, he was praised by fellow journalists for asking the question.
Good question and deserves an answer.
— Jim Ferretti (@KXLJimferretti) November 20, 2020
— 🇺🇸 President-Elect #IAmTheNRA Rosenblum (@StevenRosenblum) November 20, 2020
Good for Bo, also the idea that this was a “shouted” question is hilarious https://t.co/gz9dgNPC0f
— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) November 20, 2020
President-Elect Biden asks a good question – why is @BoKnowsNews the only one in the Biden pool tossing questions? Schools, vaccines, stimulus – so many important q’s for both @SpeakerPelosi & @JoeBiden. https://t.co/RfrS1FaNPJ
— Paula Reid (@PaulaReidCNN) November 20, 2020
Shouting questions will again be deemed a bad, disrespectful thing. https://t.co/RqfREqWyaX
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) November 21, 2020
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