The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday teachers can safely return to schools without getting coronavirus vaccinations.
While teachers and school unions across the country continue to fight over whether to return to in-person learning, the Biden administration is working with states and localities to safely reopen schools by prioritizing vaccines, enabling widespread coronavirus testing, and giving guidance on ventilation and Personal Protective Equipment. Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package earmarked $170 billion for both K-12 schools and colleges and universities.
While that’s happening, the CDC says vaccinations of teachers are not needed to reopen schools.
“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that educators need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters at a briefing according to ABC. “Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for the safe reopening of schools.”
While educators now qualify for vaccinations in many states, teachers’ unions and local advocacy groups continue to fight a full return to in-person learning until all educators are vaccinated.
House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blamed teachers and school unions.
“Science is not the obstacle. Federal money is not the obstacle. The obstacle is the lack of will power — not among students, not among parents — just among the rich, powerful unions that donate huge sums to Dems and get a stranglehold over education in many communities,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday.
However, teachers unions pointed the finger back at McConnell and Republicans for holding up a third coronavirus relief package after holding up the second package. They also took McConnell to task for low-balling the American people with its $618 billion relief package, which doesn’t include money for states and localities.
James Fedderman, the president of the Virginia Education Association said in a statement last month that all educators should continue teaching virtually until all teachers are vaccinated.
School districts and their localities have had some issues during the pandemic. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the teacher’s union are in a bitter fight and the union is very close to a strike. San Francisco is suing its own school district to reopen classes. In New York, teachers and educators agreed to close once the positivity rate passed 3%, which happened.
However, the city reopened schools although the positivity didn’t fall and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in January that elementary schools will not go to remote-learning even if the positivity rate rises to 9%.