CDC: Vaccinating all teachers not ‘prerequisite’ to safely reopen schools

Gov. Phil Murphy has pushed for flexibility in regard to in-person schooling, saying each district needs to do what is right for itself.

That may not include waiting for all teachers to be vaccinated.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that the vaccination of teachers is not a “prerequisite” for safely reopening schools.

“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” she said during a White House media briefing on COVID-19.

Few issues surrounding COVID-19 spark as much interest in the state, with more people pushing for more in-school learning.

Last week, during one of his briefings, Murphy said everyone needs to work together on the issue.

“Flexibility and communication are needed to maintain a full slate of instructions,” Murphy said. “We are grateful to all school leaders, educators and families who continue to work together to ensure the right decisions for their education communities.”

As January came to a close, Murphy said there were only 86 schools that were doing entirely in-person learning. The great majority were doing a hybrid between in-person and remote.

The state’s COVID-19 information page shows only three counties have had more than 10 confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks (Bergen with 31 and Camden and Salem with 13 each).

Wednesday, the CDC — and the White House — appeared to be pushing for more openings.

Jeff Zients, who serves as the administration’s COVID-19 czar, said President Joe Biden has been very clear that he wants schools to reopen and to stay open.

The CDC last week there is “little evidence” of widespread coronavirus transmission in schools with proper precautions like universal masking, social distancing of students and proper ventilation.