White House press secretary Jen Psaki walked back a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statement that teachers do not need a coronavirus vaccine in order to safely reopen America’s schools Wednesday.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday morning that was showing schools could safely reopen without teachers receiving the vaccine. The statement flew in the face of teachers unions across the country that have demanded their members be vaccinated before returning to in-person teaching. Psaki walked back Wolensky’s statement at a press briefing later the same day, saying her comments were not official CDC guidance. (RELATED: Parents’ Lawyers Warn Teachers’ Union That Legal Action Will Follow If They Participate In Another ‘Union-Organized Sick-Out’)
“I want to be clear that 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,” Walensky said. “Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite of safe reopening of schools.”
Press secretary Jen Psaki contradicts this. She says at press briefing she saw @CDCDirector Walensky’s comment, but CDC “has not released their official guidance yet” on vaccinations of teachers and safe reopening of schools. Prioritizing teachers is important to Biden, she says. pic.twitter.com/HJHdv9JZ0t
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) February 3, 2021
President Joe Biden has said reopening schools is a top priority for his administration. The “national strategy” his administration released in its opening days calls for “most” K-8 schools to be open within Biden’s first 100 days in office. The strategy does not discuss the reopening of high schools, however.
“The President wants to see all kids safely back in school,” a White House spokesperson explained to the Daily Caller at the time. “He also understands that reopening is not a light switch. The truth is that remote learning has been particularly difficult for younger children. Further, if younger children safely resume in-person learning, it will greatly alleviate parents’ child care challenges and could potentially boost our economy by getting more parents back into the workforce, So we are going to prioritize getting K-8 schools safely reopened as quickly as we can, with a continued goal of getting all kids back to school.”
Biden’s plan for K-8 schools calls on Congress to provide $130 billion in funding for schools to increase testing and improve safety guidelines.
A late January report from CDC researchers argued that schools are safe to reopen with social distancing and mask-wearing measures. The researchers cited a Mississippi study finding that coronavirus cases in students age 18 and under had no correlation with in-person school attendance.