Vice President Mike Pence cited his wife, a teacher, as an expert on reopening schools during a deadly pandemic.
The White House has purposefully politicized the decision to send the nation's children back to school, with President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos threatening to cut funding for districts that don't reopen.
"You're seeing the president provide leadership," Pence told reported Wednesday, "and what we are providing for the White House coronavirus task force is partnership with the governors and the state health officials, because we've just got to get our kids back."
Pence offered no specifics about the safety of sending children back into school buildings, but cited his wife's expertise.
"I have to tell you," he said, "the best expert I know on this topic is my wife, Karen, and she spoke at the summit yesterday very compellingly about how a lot of our kids are hurting out there. They're struggling with loneliness, with social isolation. The American Academy of Pediatrics spoke about that, a very forceful statement from pediatricians across the country that said we got to get our kids back into school."
Karen Pence has taught off and on at elementary schools, including a recent stint as a part-time art teacher, but has no medical training.
"The president is going to continue to provide leadership," Pence added. "I expect as the debate in Congress goes forward about additional resources we're going look to build in incentives for states to go forward, but the president's made it clear, and I think most parents in America would agree with him that we've got to got other kids back to school and back into the classroom, and we can do it in a safe and a responsible way."