Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky publicly admitted that the agency’s new school reopening guidelines were informed by the opinions of anti-in-person-learning teachers unions.
“I recognize that the decision, on when and how to begin in-person learning is one that must be based on a thorough review of what the science tells us works and an understanding of the lived experiences, challenges, and perspectives of teachers and school staff, parents, and students,” Walensky said in a COVID-19 update on Friday. “We have conducted an in-depth review of the available science and evidence base to guide our recommendations, and we have also engaged with many education and public-health partners to hear firsthand from parents and teachers directly about their experiences and concerns.”
This input from some of the same people who have stalled school reopenings in cities across the nation, Walensky said, resulted in “direct changes to the guidance.”
Others involved in the back-to-school conversations, Senior Adviser for Policy and Planning at the U.S. Department of Education Donna Harris-Aikens said, included “superintendents, principals, civil-rights groups, and all sorts of other folks.”
Just last week, the Biden-Harris administration, which has shown sympathy to teachers unions’ anti-science approach, signaled its intent to use the CDC’s new, official guidelines concerning education and COVID-19 to justify keeping many schools closed based on the rate of community COVID-19 transmission in certain areas.
The new model, which the CDC released on Friday, says only K-12 schools in cities and areas with low or moderate virus transmission, depicted through various color-coded zones, can fully reopen for in-person learning, as long as physical distancing and mask-wearing is enforced. Any transmission rate beyond what is designated as moderate requires hybrid learning or “reduced attendance,” limiting which children are allowed in the classroom at the same time. In more than 90 percent of the country, community spread is considered in the red zone and many schools do not have routine testing, both disqualifiers for full reopening under the Biden admin.
While the new plan allows for classroom learning even if all teachers are not vaccinated against the virus, Walensky warned that there should still be plans to enforce “mitigation strategies.”
“I want to be careful to assume that once we have vaccination that we aren’t going to need to continue at least some of these mitigation strategies over some period of time,” she said. “And so, it may very well be that some combination of the mitigation strategies that we have, we will need to be doing for some period of time. We do not know the durability of vaccinations. We don’t know whether we are going to need booster vaccinations.”