Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday said not all teachers need to be vaccinated in order for schools to reopen, The New York Post reports.
“It’s not [the case] that you can’t open a school unless all the teachers are vaccinated. That would be optimal, if you could do that,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week”.
Fauci said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s school-reopening guide involved a “lot of layering to the mitigations” to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.
“Part of that is to indicate and suggest strongly that a preference be given to teachers to get vaccinated so vaccinating teachers are part of it,” Fauci told Stephanopoulos, however he insisted that it’s not essential.
“It’s not something that you can’t open a school unless all of the teachers are vaccinated.”
Fauci suggested giving preference for teachers to be vaccinated is a part of the plan for the future, but “it’s not a sine qua non,” it’s more important to prioritize students returning to class.
“Practically speaking when you balance the benefit of getting the children back to school with the fact that the risks are being mitigated if you follow the recommendations of the new guidelines from the CDC, hopefully that will alleviate the concerns on both sides,” Fauci said.
When asked if schools had the resources available to implement the new CDC guidelines, Fauci admitted he did not believe so.
“I think that the schools really do need more resources and that’s the reason why the national relief act that we’re talking about getting passed — we need that. The schools need more resources.”
“I think it can be done. Obviously, it’s not a perfect situation but it’s really important to get the children back to school in a safe of a way as possible — safe for the children but also safe for the teachers and other educators,” Fauci said.
The CDC on Friday released new COVID-19 guidelines for schools that set out a 33-page color-coded system based on levels of infection with ranges for how facilities can reopen safely.
“We’ve used stronger languages than prior guidance. We’ve been much more prescriptive here as to putting some guardrails on what can and should be done to get to a safe reopening,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, told reporters.
Walensky said that vaccinating teachers gives “an additional layer of protection.”
“We know that most clusters in the school setting have occurred when there are breaches in mask wearing,” Walensky said.