Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee today issued the following statement.
The CDC today issued new guidance on reopening schools. As we approach one full year of this pandemic and three semesters of devastating, widespread learning loss, we cannot afford to delay getting children and teachers back into the classroom any longer. Simply put, our students, especially our vulnerable children, cannot continue virtual-only learning if our goal is to make up the tremendous ground lost this past year.
For weeks, Chiefs for Change has been urging officials to make all teachers and school staff immediately eligible for vaccination—but we need not wait to bring students back for critical in-person learning, as long as key health measures are in place.
This newest guidance focuses on several mitigation strategies, including universal masking, social distancing, hand washing and respiratory etiquette, cleaning, and ventilation. These strategies must be coupled with robust COVID-19 testing programs for the duration of the pandemic. Regular COVID testing allows districts to detect even asymptomatic cases, to quickly quarantine students and staff who have been exposed, and to stop the spread. In this way, schools can stay ahead of the virus—safeguarding the health of their communities and ensuring school buildings reopen safely and remain open. As we look to the coming school year, we urge all school systems to prioritize COVID testing for staff and students along with the other critical health precautions. We call on the federal government to provide the necessary resources and funding to assist schools in implementing and sustaining these efforts.
A preponderance of evidence from experts at the CDC, the World Health Organization, and others shows it is possible to safely reopen schools and that schools continue to be some of the safest places in a community. We must act now to get our schools opened safely so America’s students and families can finally begin to turn the page on this dark chapter.