CDC Director Rochelle Walensky confirmed that her agency’s newly-released guidance states that it is possible for schools “even in areas of the highest community spread” to reopen safely–at least in a hybrid fashion–without teachers getting vaccinated first.
The CDC released new guidance last week, highlighting “layered mitigation strategies” to reduce COVID transmission.
“We are advocating with the strict mitigation measures … including universal and mandatory masking as well as six-foot of distancing, that at least our K-5 children should be able to get back to school at least in a hybrid mode,” Walensky told “Fox News Sunday,” referring to a model that would combine in-person and remote learning.
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Walensky acknowledged that some measures, such as reducing classroom density, will be more difficult to achieve but it is just one step of several suggested by the new guidance.
“It’s a layered mitigation approach,” Walensky added. “And what we’ve put forward in this guidance is the roadmap to get us there.”
Some teachers unions have argued that schools will not be prepared to reopen fully until all school staff members are vaccinated. Others have gone even further, saying it still would not be safe to reopen then, claiming that schools need more funding for better ventilation systems before students and staff can safely return.
In the new guidance, vaccinations for teachers and school staff are listed under “additional layers” of protection. Walensky said Sunday that while teacher vaccinations are not required to reopen schools safely, teachers are prioritized for getting vaccinated.
“Our other guidance on who should be vaccinated – our advisory committee on immunization practices – suggests that teachers should be prioritized in the 1B group,” Walensky explained. “So I am a big advocate that ensuring that the ASIP guidance is followed, that teachers are prioritized.”
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“But from a scientific standpoint, we know that it is possible to reopen schools safely without all of the teachers being vaccinated,” she added.
Fox News’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.