WILMINGTON, Del.  — Joe Biden delivered a blistering attack on President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying his guidance — or lack thereof — negatively impacted teachers and students nationwide.

What You Need To Know

  • Joe Biden delivered his second in-person speech of the week from Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday

  • The former Vice President said President Trump's repeated failures in dealing with COVID-19 is negatively impacting students and teachers

  • Biden's campaign laid out a multi-step plan for safely reopening schools earlier this summer

  • Biden called the reopening of schools a "national emergency"

Biden addressed a crowd in Wilmington, Delaware, after being briefed by public health experts. Biden noted that the issue of school reopenings is a personal one to his family, as his wife, Jill Biden, is a longtime community college professor and former high school teacher. 

In his speech, Biden said the ongoing issues with school reopenings are directly linked to Trump’s repeated failings to address the pandemic. The Trump administration has continuously encouraged schools across the country to fully reopen, despite the nearly 185,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the United States. 

“This year we are facing the most difficult circumstance, and we are seeing an awful lot of heart and a lot of grit from our educators, our students, to try to rise to the occasion here," Biden said. "But our government hasn’t come up to that bar. They haven’t shown much grit at all. 

“Let me be clear: If President Trump and his administration had done their jobs early on with this crisis, American schools would be open and they would be open safely. Instead, American families all across this country are paying the price for his failure, his administration’s failures.” 

The former vice president said he considers going back to school a national emergency and questioned if Trump agreed. 

In early August, the White House also said the Trump administration is “working on a plan to provide millions of reusable face coverings to States for students, teachers, and staff.”

“President Trump may not think this is a national emergency, but I think going back to school for millions of children and the impacts on their families and the communities is a national emergency,” Biden said. “Protecting our students, our educators, our communities, getting our schools open safely and effectively, this is a national emergency. 

“President Trump still doesn't have any real plan for how to open our schools safely, no real plan for parents on how to feel secure for their children...He is offering nothing but failure and delusions,” Biden continued. 

Biden released a plan for reopening schools early this summer, when he called on Congress to pass a $30 billion emergency education package. The Democratic nominee reiterated his plans Wednesday, adding that he would direct FEMA to make sure all students K-12 had access to disaster funding under the Stafford Act. 

The speech was Biden’s second this week following months of no in-person appearances. On Monday, Biden made a stop in Pittsburgh, where he condemned both the violence in nationwide protests as well as Trump’s response to the riots. 

“Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple, and those who do it should be prosecuted,” Biden said. 

He added that no one has more to gain from violence than Trump, who he said has long fanned the flames of division across the country. 

“Fires are burning, and we have a president who fans the flames rather than fighting the flames,” Biden said. “But we must not burn. We have to build. This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can't stop the violence because for years he's fomented it.” 

Biden then delineated his own plan for fighting systemic racism and decreasing violence, saying Trump has never had such a plan. The 77-year-old said he plans on bringing Black Lives Matter protesters and police officers to the table to discuss potential solutions. 

Biden's team announced the Democratic presidential candidate and his wife will hold a community meeting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Thursday "to bring together Americans to heal and address the challenges we face.” 

Biden's visit to Kenosha will come two days after Trump's, and both come amid nights of civil unrest in the city following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. 

The president, who has repeatedly criticized Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ response in Kenosha, spent the day meeting with local leaders, surveying damage in the city and speaking at a roundtable on community safety, where he defended police and pledged $42 million to “support public safety statewide.”

Evers and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian had both discouraged the president from visiting, with the mayor saying “the timing is wrong” as the city works to heal. 

When asked Wednesday why he thought the timing was right for him to visit the city, Biden answered that multiple local leaders had invited him to do so. He also said he planned to show leadership where Trump did not.