President Biden spoke with a group of students about in-person schooling.
White House Communications

President Biden Visited A Third Grade Classroom To Hear From Students About In-Person School

“I have five to seven friends now.”

After months and months of remote learning due to the pandemic, many kids across the country have gone back to the classroom. The change has come with a whole lot of mixed feelings, perhaps especially for parents. Fears about safety, concerns about socialization, questions about masking and Covid-19 vaccine eligibility. As for kids? At least four students who met with President Joe Biden seem to be pretty pumped about the return to in-person school.

Last Friday, Biden met with a group young students and their teacher, Ms. Comey, at Luis Muñoz-Marín Elementary School in Philadelphia to find out how they were feeling about being back in the classroom. And he had a captive audience. “It’s an honor to meet you Mr. President,” the third-graders said as Biden walked into the classroom.

“You’ve got great handshakes, I’m telling you,” he told the students.

Ms. Comey got the ball rolling by telling Biden, “It’s a joy to have them back, Mr. President.”

She isn’t the only one happy to be back in the classroom. After asking the president a few questions, like whether or not he played sports when he was younger and how much security detail he had (the fact that there was a Secret Service agent in the room with them got a big response), the kids started talking about how remote learning had been for them.

“It was, like, kind of sad,” one young girl shared, “because the first day of second grade, you go and meet new people. But I didn’t meet new people. I couldn’t make any friends, I couldn’t really hear that much... It wasn’t like I was learning like I would in the actual classroom.”

“One of my friend’s camera wasn’t working and some of them were sleeping,” another little girl shared.

It’s no surprise that these students are happy to be back in the classroom; studies have shown that in-person class reduces stress in kids. And beyond education, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) previously stressed how important in-person schooling is for kids. “Children get much more than academics at school,” the AAP said in July 2020. “They also learn social and emotional skills at school, get healthy meals and exercise, mental health support and other services that cannot be easily replicated online. Schools also play a critical role in addressing racial and social inequity.”

Indeed, as one student told Biden, things are looking up now. “When we came back in third grade, I got to make friends,” she said. “I have at least five to seven friends now.”