February 9, 2021
Statement on Anticipated CDC Guidance for Reopening Schools

Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee today issued the following statement.

As the CDC is expected to issue formal guidance on reopening schools this week, members of Chiefs for Change have been acting on the science, working to safely get students back into the classroom as quickly as possible. We welcome the new guidance and expect it will be consistent with what public health experts have been saying for some time: With the proper mitigation measures, schools are among the safest places in a community.

We can and must safely reopen schools now.

In a JAMA article on January 26, CDC researchers explained that, with precautions, schools do not spark major outbreaks or significantly contribute to the spread of Covid-19. Furthermore, speaking at a White House news conference last week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the evidence “does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated” before schools can safely reopen. While vaccines offer an added layer of protectionand while we continue to urge officials to make all teachers and school staff eligible for vaccination nowwe need not wait to bring students back for critical in-person learning, as long as health measures, such as masking and distancing, are in place.

We reiterate the urgent need for more federal funding to sustain mitigation efforts and to implement robust campus-based Covid testing initiatives for the duration of the pandemic so that schools can reopen—and remain open.

President Biden is exactly right: Continued school closures are a national emergency. It has been nearly one year since schools first closed. We have seen the devastating effects that disrupted learning and social isolation have on the millions of children who still have not returned to the classroom. Disconnected from the critical in-person supports that schools provide, children are experiencing trauma, stress, and tremendous learning loss. And the untold financial consequences of school closures are harming families, communities, and the national economy. Until we fully reopen our schools, America cannot begin to recover.

A preponderance of evidence from experts at the CDC, the World Health Organization, and others shows it is possible to safely reopen schools. We must do so now. The cost of continued school closures is extraordinary, and students and families simply cannot afford to wait any longer.