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White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Thursday he believes schools in the U.S. should be open “full blast,” five days a week by the fall — “just the way it was” before the pandemic.
“We really have to do that by the time we get to the fall,” Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky and Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation for Teachers, both made the same recommendation recently.
Currently, around half of all U.S. public schools aren’t yet open for in-person learning five days a week, according to The New York Times.
When asked if vaccinated children could forego masks in the classroom, Fauci said he would defer to the CDC on recommendations for students, “but I would think that would certainly be an option if the children are vaccinated, not to have a mask.”
Of the CDC guidance that fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks indoors, Fauci said he didn’t want to “declare victory” on the virus “prematurely” but said “this is clearly a step in the direction that we want to go.”
Fauci added that parents should still make sure children are wearing masks until they’re vaccinated but noted that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for 12 to 15-year-olds.
He said vaccine studies are being done for children younger than 12, “so we’ll be able, hopefully, by the end of the year to be able to vaccinate children of any age.”
Weingarten, who leads the second-largest teacher’s union in the country, said in a Thursday press conference, “There is no doubt: Schools must be open. In-person. Five days a week,” according to The Times.
She noted returning wouldn’t be “risk-free” but said simple measures like mask-wearing, hand washing and smaller class sizes would mitigate the dangers.
Last month, Walensky told ABC News, “We should anticipate, come September 2021, that schools should be full-fledged in person and all of our children back in the classroom.”
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