CDC director says guidance on reopening schools to be released in the coming week


WILMINGTON, DELAWARE – DECEMBER 08: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to head the Centers for Disease Control, speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater December 08, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. With the novel coronavirus pandemic continuing to ravage the country with daily records for infections and deaths, members of Biden’s health team said they will make fighting COVID-19 the priority. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    (CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release guidance on school reopenings in the coming week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Friday.

The announcement comes after the White House appeared to distance itself from comments Walensky made earlier this week suggesting schools could safely reopen without teachers getting vaccinated against Covid-19.

CNN’s Sara Murray asked Walensky on Friday about her previous comments about teachers and why it would be safe for teachers to return to the classroom if they have not been vaccinated — and whether that is considered the CDC’s official guidance at this point.

“Our goal is to get children back to school. School should be the last places closed and the first places open. Our goal is to make sure in getting children back to school that we do so both with the safety of the children and the safety of the teachers,” Walensky said.

Walensky continued: “Among the things that we need to do to make sure that schools are safe is to make sure that the community spread of the disease is down,” Walensky said. “We are actively working on the guidance, the official guidance, which will be released in the week ahead.”

Earlier this week at a White House Covid-19 briefing, Walensky said, “There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen, and that that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely.”

The next day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Walensky was speaking “in her personal capacity,” and that the CDC hadn’t issued its official guidance yet.

“The President, let me be crystal clear, wants schools to open. He wants them to stay open. And that is, and he wants to do that safely, and he wants health and medical experts to be the guides for how we should do exactly that,” Psaki added.

The guidance on how to reopen schools safely will come as some teacher unions resist reopening some schools amid fears of teachers getting infected with Covid-19.

The Chicago Teachers Union has told its members to be prepared to go on strike if the school district retaliates for teachers choosing to continue teaching online, as Chicago Public Schools CEO Dr. Janice Jackson and other school officials say it’s time to get everyone back into the classroom.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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