Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters on Wednesday that teachers don’t have to be vaccinated against the CCP virus in order for schools to safely reopen.
“I also want to be clear that there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” Walensky said during a briefing by top health officials from the Biden administration on efforts to speed up vaccinations for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Walensky said the CDC is following guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) about who should get vaccinated first. The ACIP has categorized teachers as essential workers, who stand at the 1-B level for priority of vaccination.
The ACIP is made up of medical and public health experts who develop recommendations for the safest use of vaccines by the public.
“So while we are implementing the criteria of the advisory committee and of the state and local guidances to get vaccination across these eligible communities, I would also say that vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for the safe reopening of schools,” Welensky said.
One study conducted by researchers at the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice, a school choice advocacy, policy, and research organization run out of Tulane University, found that the benefits of reopening schools for in-person learning outweighs any negative health risks.
According to the study (pdf), “Our results suggest that school reopenings have not increased COVID-19 hospitalizations, especially for the 75 percent of counties that had the lowest baseline hospitalizations.”
Jeffrey Zients, President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 task force coordinator, told reporters that Congress must pass the COVID-19 stimulus bill because Biden wants schools to reopen safely and believes the $1.9 trillion package, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, will help do that.
“President Biden has been very clear that he wants schools to reopen, and actually to stay open. And that means that every school has the equipment and the resources to open safely,” Zients said.
“That’s why we need the American Rescue Plan passed now. It includes money to get schools better access to testing, enables smaller class sizes, acquires the necessary ventilation, ensures everyone has PPE, and its schools are properly sanitized. It also includes much-needed funds to support the learning and social, emotional needs of our kids in what has been an extremely difficult year,” he added.