WASHINGTON – School children welcome!
That's the word from the White House, which has decided to open its doors to school group tours next month.
Large tour groups usually start flocking the nation's capital in the spring. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Friday that President Bush decided to allow limited tours because of the massive numbers of visitors to the nation's capital.
"Much of that tourism comes from school groups," Fleischer said. "It is a time-honored tradition, and it is being balanced with a nation that is at war."
School groups will have to contact their members of Congress to request the tours and must give lawmakers information about each student and chaperone in order for them to get security clearances to enter the White House, Fleischer said.
White House tours were suspended after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a security precaution. The presidential mansion remains closed to general tours; Fleischer said no decision has been made on when those will resume.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.