Dr. Fauci backs the CDC’s recommendation to send kids back to school, but will parents agree?
As vaccine distribution ramps up, the U.S. is still one of the world’s coronavirus hotspots, leading the globe in cases and deaths from COVID-19. Amid that, there’s a war between public health agencies, teachers, and parents over when and under what conditions schools should reopen and children should go back to attending in-person classes. The CDC made the argument earlier this week that schools are safe as long as certain precautions are taken. And now, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, is weighing in on the debate.
During an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Fauci said that he supports the CDC’s recommendation that schools should open for in-person classes.
“I would back the CDC recommendations because that is really based on data… we need to try and get the children back to school and that’s the goal of President Biden that in the next 100 days to get the K to eights back in school,” Fauci said. “It’s less likely for a child to get infected in the school setting than if they were just in the community.”
CDC officials published a study on Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA that provided guidelines meant to help more schools reopen safely. The study argued that if schools enforce social distancing and masking among students, they can safely resume in-person classes.
“Decisions made today can help ensure safe operation of schools and provide critical services to children and adolescents in the U.S.,” the study said. It did go on to say that schools should not resume high-risk activities, like indoor sports practices or games.
In a Town Hall hosted by the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, Dr. Fauci said, “We’re not going to get back to normal until we get children back into school, both for the good of the children, for the good of the parents, and for the good of the community,” he said. “We want to make sure we do that by giving the teachers and the teams associated with teachers the resources that they need to do that. The idea of, ‘Go do it on your own’—that doesn’t work.”
As the new Biden administration has promised to make reopening schools a priority, parents and teachers have pushed back, arguing that the risk of transmission is just too high. In a number of high-profile cases, teachers have died after contracting COVID-19.
In the meantime, Fauci said, vaccines need to continue to be a top public health priority. During his MSNBC interview, he predicted that the current rate of vaccination could allow the U.S. to return to some sense of normalcy by fall, but he also warned that unless people stay stringent with their social distancing and mask-wearing, surges in the U.S. will continue to get worse before they get better.
The U.S. has now seen more than 25 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 430,000 people have died.