CDC Head Makes Major Announcement About Schools Reopening


Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday that teachers do not have to be vaccinated in order for schools to reopen safely.

“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen,” she said during a Wednesday morning briefing held by the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response team, Bloomberg reported.

“Safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” Walensky said.

Guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices categorizes teachers as essential workers, making them a priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Even though teachers are eligible, state criteria to receive the jab varies, and low vaccine supplies are a restraint on most communities.

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Walensky cited CDC data that showed a significant reduction in the spread of COVID-19 in schools when practices such as social distancing and mask-wearing are enforced, according to The Associated Press.

The CDC paper released last week as part of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report focused on data from a rural Wisconsin county that reopened schools last month.

Of the 191 cases that were confirmed among students and staff, only seven were tied to a spread at the school.

“Transmission risk within schools appeared low, suggesting that schools might be able to safely open with appropriate mitigation efforts in place,” the report read.

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During the coronavirus briefing, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients called on Congress to ensure schools have additional funding to obtain the necessary resources to reopen safely, the AP reported.

President Joe Biden pledged to reopen nearly all K-8 schools in the first 100 days of his administration.

However, many teachers unions are pushing back against reopening, NPR reported, and the goalposts for what is considered “safe” for teachers keep moving.

“There is little likelihood the low-income communities we serve, which have been hit hardest by the virus, will meet the proposed ‘Safe Schools for All’ COVID guidelines by February 1st,” Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner told his community on Jan. 25.

“Many experts say even March 1st is unlikely, given current health conditions. Sadly, COVID numbers remain at dangerously high levels in nearly every category — infections, hospitalizations and deaths.”

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Walensky said Wednesday that coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the country appear to be in a “consistent downward trajectory.”

“COVID-19 cases have declined steadily since hitting a peak on Jan. 8, dropping 13.4 percent to an average of nearly 144,000 cases per day from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1,” she said.

The decrease in hospitalizations has given Walensky’s team hope that coronavirus deaths will begin to decrease in the coming weeks.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith