CDC Director: Teacher vaccinations ‘not a prerequisite’ for safely reopening schools
The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters Wednesday that schools can reopen safely even if teachers are not vaccinated against COVID-19.
“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC. Walensky noted that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has identified teachers as essential workers, placing them in the 1-B category for priority of vaccination, and that CDC is implementing that guidance.
“I would also say that vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.” Walensky cited CDC data that social distancing and wearing a mask reduce the spread of COVID in school settings.
But even with these protocols built into school reopening plans, many teachers’ unions across the country continue to push back, pointing to “safety concerns” and calling for vaccinations before returning to the classroom. It will be interesting to see if Walensky’s remarks influence unions’ timeline for resuming in-person instruction. Or if President Biden’s pledge to reopen most K-8 schools in his first 100 days in office will have any impact on their stranglehold over education.
Past statements from Walensky have echoed similar sentiments regarding prioritizing schools, reports The 74, where she has said “that classrooms should be the last locations to close, as well as the first to reopen, amid the pandemic.”
New CDC research published late last month affirmed that schools can reopen safely, finding little evidence of the coronavirus spreading at schools.