New CDC guidelines ignite backlash over school reopenings
UPDATED 4:45 PM PT – Wednesday, February 17, 2021
The CDC and the Biden White House appeared to announce conflicting messages regarding school reopenings as many speculated whether or not the two are on the same page. In a press briefing Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the Biden administration’s goal for reopening schools.
Joe Biden previously announced schools would reopen at least one day a week, but he appeared to change his mind on Tuesday during a CNN town hall. Biden announced schools would reopen at least five days a week and referred to the mishap as a “mistake in communication,” which appeared to throw his press secretary under the bus.
“I did say last Thursday that the president will not rest until every school is open five days a week,” Psaki said. “That is what we want to achieve, but we look forward to seeing and hearing the CDC guidelines to gain a better understanding of what steps that will entail or should entail. When I initially said one day a week, it was our floor not our ceiling.”
Last Friday, the CDC released new guidance for the first time since Joe Biden took office. The agency asked local officials to base reopenings on the transmission levels in a given community. However, according to reports, public health experts believe basing a school’s ability to reopen on “community transmission” is ineffective.
Experts argued schools would be better off fully returning to the classroom with safety protocols, such as masks and distancing, implemented instead. The rules sparked questions as to whether or not “community spread” is grounds for keeping schools closed.
In the meantime, the varied solutions from the Biden administration have left many Americans confused. However, the ultimate decision is made at the local level as school districts continue to work out how to reopen safely.