New guidelines released from CDC on reopening schools

Teacher creates national database of Covid-19-related school closures
Posted at 12:57 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 17:40:40-05

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are expected to release new guidance on re-opening schools.

The CDC along with the U.S. Department of Education will have a briefing at 2 p.m. on “new science-based resources and tools to help schools safely reopen and stay open for in-person learning.”

The CDC has offered guidance on operating schools during the COVID-19 crisis, including mitigation strategies for school staff to help protect students, teachers, and staff and slow the spread of the virus.

As for the Biden administration’s school re-opening goal, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained their position on Wednesday.

“The President's objective is for all schools to reopen, to stay open, to be open five days a week, for kids to be learning. That's what our focus is on. This is simply a goal for 100 days," Psaki said.

An administration official told CNN strategies to reopen schools include hand washing, wearing masks, social distancing, cleaning, and ventilation, on top of contact tracing and quarantining.

CNN reports the official noted the guidance will not suggest requiring staffers to be vaccinated, but instead describing vaccinations as another strategy to “layer.” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has previously said vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for the safe reopening of schools.

The National Education Association, which represents about three million educators, conducted a survey of its members to learn about member's vaccination rate and access to the COVID-19 vaccine. It found 82% of educators have not been vaccinated, while 70% say they will feel safer about working in-person as a result of the vaccine. 64% said they are currently working in school buildings all or part of the time.

ABC Action News spoke to Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association president Nancy Velardi ahead of the guidance briefing on what she believes is needed for teachers to feel safe in the classroom during the pandemic if schools in Florida are fully opened.

“For the teachers, obviously they would need vaccinations. Vaccinations would be the move that would make them most comfortable, if most people were able to be vaccinated,” said Velardi.

Velardi explained the school district helped make COVID-19 vaccines available to Pinellas County Schools employees 65 years and up, but she says they do have a group of people who are vulnerable with certain health conditions.

“They have comorbidities that make it a little more dangerous for them to be in a face-to-face classroom, so they would definitely need to be vaccinated before they would be expected to be in that situation,” said Velardi.

Schools in Florida have already been offering face-to-face learning during the pandemic, while giving parents the option to keep their children virtual.