The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says that teachers do not need to receive COVID-19 vaccines before schools can safely reopen. Teachers unions across the country — including in places such as Los Angeles and Chicago — have balked at the idea of teachers returning to the classrooms without proper precautions in place, including vaccinations.
According to a Wednesday report from CNBC, newly appointed CDC Director Rochelle Walensky says that teachers do not need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before schools can reopen.
In statements during a COVID-19 White House press briefing, Walensky said, “There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated. Vaccinations of teachers is not a prerequisite of reopening schools.”
She also explained that a CDC advisory committee has placed teachers in the “1B” category — the same as essential workers — to receive vaccines, placing them second in line for priority to receive the injections.
Jeffrey Zients, coordinator of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 task force, echoed Walensky’s sentiments Wednesday, insisting that the president is “very clear” on his position that he wants schools to “reopen and to stay open.”
“That means every school has the equipment and the resources to open safely,” he said during the news briefing. “Not just private schools or schools in wealthy areas but all schools.”
“Congress has to do its part to make sure that we can safely reopen schools and keep them open,” he added, and called on Congress to pass Biden’s COVID-19 response plan.
Last week, the CDC said that there is “little evidence” of widespread coronavirus transmission in schools so long as proper precautions — such as masking, social distancing, sanitization, and proper ventilation — take place.
Biden has previously pledged to ensure K-8 schools reopen for in-person instruction within his first 100 days in office.