White House says teacher vaccinations are 'not a requirement to reopen'
(CNN) -- White House officials affirmed Wednesday that they do not believe teacher vaccinations should be mandatory for schools to reopen, though they do agree teachers should be prioritized like frontline workers.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday in a CNN town hall that he wanted teachers to be prioritized for vaccination, comments Vice President Kamala Harris echoed when pressed repeatedly on the matter Wednesday during an interview with NBC News.
"Teachers should be vaccinated ... like other frontline workers," White House Covid response coordinator Jeff Zients said at Wednesday's virtual Covid press briefing, but added, "But the President, vice president agree with the CDC guidelines that it's not a requirement to reopen."
The CDC's guidelines released last week suggest it is not mandatory for teachers to be vaccinated in order to return to in-person learning, a key priority for the Biden administration in its first 100 days. But the decision is ultimately up to the states: 28 states plus the District of Columbia are currently allowing some or all of their teachers and school staff to receive Covid-19 vaccines.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that getting every teacher vaccinated before schools can open "really is rather impractical to make that a sine qua non of opening the schools," using to the Latin phrase for an "essential condition."
"We feel strongly that we should try as best as we possibly can to vaccinate teachers and they should be as a high priority within the area of essential personnel," he added. "Even though we don't feel that every teacher needs to be vaccinated before you can open a school, that doesn't take away from the fact that we strongly support the vaccination of teachers."
Fauci suggested that the data of Covid-19 cases in school settings are largely "reflective of what is going on in the community," rather than super-spreading events within schools.
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