CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday that recently reopened schools already struggling with large-scale Covid outbreaks generally aren’t following federal guidelines that recommend students and staff wear masks indoors and get vaccinated.
Pediatric Covid hospitalizations in the U.S. reached their highest reported levels this week, and Walensky said school closures will occur in districts with insufficient safeguards to block community spread of the virus.
Speaking at a White House Covid-19 briefing, Walensky called on schools to adopt a multi-layered approach that also includes social distancing, enhanced ventilation and Covid testing to prevent outbreaks in schools.
“I want to strongly appeal to those districts who have not implemented prevention strategies and encourage them to do the right thing to protect the children under their care,” Walensky said.
Walensky, who didn’t mention any school districts by name, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied an outbreak in Northern California where an unvaccinated, symptomatic teacher read to a class without a mask, spreading the virus to students, staff and their families.
Elsewhere, in Florida, Hillsborough County Public Schools reported this month that nearly 10,400 students and almost 340 staff were in isolation or quarantine after close contact with a positive Covid case.