White House Waffles on CDC Guidance for School Reopenings

The White House walked back comments from CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, suggesting that schools might be able to reopen before all teachers have received a vaccine to prevent Covid-19.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday claimed that Walensky was speaking in her “personal capacity.” Psaki explained, “obviously she’s the head of the CDC, but we’re going to wait for final guidance to come out.”

“[Biden] believes that even with vaccinations for teachers or for any American, that there are a number of other mitigation steps that are important to take … the wearing of masks, social distancing, ventilation, these are all factors that are important for… the reopening of schools,” Psaki said.

Walensky suggested at a briefing the previous day that she was receptive to the idea of reopening schools and that vaccinating teachers “is not a prerequisite” for returning to in-person instruction, citing a growing volume of scientific data.

Walensky noted that there is “increasing data” to suggest that teachers need not receive the coronavirus vaccination for K-12 schools to reopen safely.

“I want to be clear that there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” Walensky said. “I would also say that vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for the safe reopening of schools.”

A January study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that the spread of coronavirus in schools is “extremely rare.”

According to The Washington Free Beacon report, teachers’ unions across the United States have thwarted efforts at every turn to go back to the classroom for in-person instruction, claiming without evidence that it is unsafe to do so until all school staff members receive the vaccine. Chicago teachers have twice refused to go back on the school district’s scheduled reopening dates.

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met and married an American journalist and moved to D.C. from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A. in Graphics, Media, and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: Getty Images

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