If Schools Follow CDC Guidance, Biden’s Reopening Goals Could Be Hard To Reach

Feb 22, 2021 by

President Biden has said many times that he wants most schools to be open by his 100th day in office, April 30. And on Friday, Feb. 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines intended to help schools operate in person safely. But some argue these guidelines will do little to promote school openings.

“Wake up call to parents! If schools start following this new guidance strictly, kids are not getting back to full-time school,” Joseph Allen, the director of Harvard’s Healthy Buildings Program and an expert on ventilation, told NPR’s Steve Inskeep. Maybe not even by next fall, he said.

Rather than pour oil on troubled waters, the administration’s guidance and public statements seem to have poured an energy drink over an already intense debate — one where the relationship among school operations, COVID-19 levels and politics is far from straightforward or uniform.

Some of the confusion is coming directly from the administration. At a CNN town hall on Tuesday Biden reiterated and clarified that he’s talking about grades K-8 and said, “The goal will be five days a week.” This contradicted recent statements by his press secretary, Jen Psaki, that the goal was just one day a week, without specifying K-8.

Another walkback happened earlier in February, when CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said vaccinating teachers was not a prerequisite for safely reopening schools; Psaki later said Walensky had been speaking “in her personal capacity.” The new, official CDC guidance, however, matches Walensky’s statement, saying “access to vaccination should not be considered a condition for reopening schools for in-person instruction.”

The official guidance and White House statements are also running into complicated facts on the ground.

Source: If Schools Follow CDC Guidance, Biden’s Reopening Goals Could Be Hard To Reach | Michigan Radio

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