CDC says reopen all schools now, but that will come at a price

BOSTON — These days it seems like everything’s a competition. A group of researchers at the CDC is recommending the full reopening of schools even if it means shutting down indoor dining. In a journal article published Tuesday, the authors wrote, “Decisions made today can help ensure safe operation of schools and provide critical services to children.”

The CDC is recommending the country prioritize reopening schools, but that will come at a price.

“Then we need to prioritize all of the conditions that are needed to bring as many students back as possible,” said Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang. “We absolutely don’t want to be pitted against the elderly.”

Tang said instead of saying all healthcare workers and all seniors should be vaccinated first, the rollout should be more nuanced.

“Truthfully, if there are health care workers who are able to provide remote services, I’m not so sure that they actually should be prioritized,” said Tang. “Thousands of educators who are scheduled right now to return back to in-person classrooms on Monday are working with some of our highest-needs students, many of whom have disabilities which prevent them from being able to socially distance or wear masks.”

Competition over limited vaccines and competition over who stays open. The CDC study said compiled data found little evidence of COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, and that’s why they are choosing them over restaurants and gyms. However, a few hours before the study came out, the city of Boston announced museums, movie theaters and gyms will reopen next week. Meanwhile, schools are only open to students with high needs.

The competition seems to continue with the state criticizing union leaders. This is in response to the statement the unions put out today.

“The teachers union leaders’ claims are false and misleading. Teachers are scheduled to receive a vaccine in Phase Two – the first group of workers in the state to be prioritized for the vaccine after healthcare workers and first responders,” said Colleen Quinn, spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Education. “The administration is calling on these union leaders to be honest partners in the effort to educate children in classrooms. Instead, these leaders attack good faith efforts to go back to school despite overwhelming evidence that it is safe to do so, and the administration was dismayed to learn these same union leaders also oppose going back to the classroom until vaccines for children are developed. There is no legitimate evidence from any public health or medical body to back up the union leaders’ claims, and their tactics will only exacerbate the emotional and educational harm students are experiencing as a result of being out of the classroom.”

Those leaders say even that the CDC study has competition.

“I think that’s contradicting a lot of the research that’s coming out of the UK right now that actually has said that the opposite,” said Tang. “If those safety conditions and measures aren’t in place, then that’s where you have situations where it can lead to actually to increased transmission. It is absolutely just not true to say that we’ve said that educators only go back into schools and when they’ve been vaccinated when we actually have educators in schools today and yesterday and for weeks now who are already back in school for our highest-needs students. So that is just categorically false.”

Tang says she knows the state can’t mandate a safe and vaccinated return to school, but the state can help them financially to get needed rapid testing on-site and to improve facilities; however, there is also a competition for money.

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