When the CDC released new COVID-19 guidelines on February 12, headlines around the nation focused on guidance that teacher vaccinations don’t need to be a prerequisite for reopenings–which echoed comments made previously by the new CDC director, Rochelle Walensky. The caveat that much of the media ignored was that this guidance was dependent on schools successfully implementing other safety measures. The fact is that almost two-thirds of the nation’s schoolchildren are already participating in some kind of in-person learning, and almost all Texas campuses are open for kids whose parents choose on-campus instruction.
Unfortunately, Texas also did not place school employees in the 1B tier for vaccinations–which was recommended by the CDC with vaccine rollouts and pushed by Texas AFT, a significant majority of lawmakers, the State Board of Education, and the state’s top health official. (A poll this week also showed overwhelming public support for vaccinating teachers before holding on-campus instruction.) So the new CDC guidelines, while supported by our union, have little impact on Texas. As AFT President Randi Weingarten told NBC News, “Of course, this set of safeguards should have been done 10 months ago,” adding that the AFT released its similar recommendations in April of 2020.