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CDC: Schools can open safely now

FILE: Custodial crews installed plexiglass in libraries and offices for SLC school buildings to prepare for the return of teachers, staff and children. Photo credit: Salt Lake City Schools

The CDC says schools nationwide may reopen safely right now, even without teachers getting the vaccines.

Many schools around the country have been staying remote while waiting for teachers to get the vaccine first. But they are facing increasing pressure to re-open.

“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday.

“Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for the safe reopening of schools,” she said.

CDC research on schools and the virus

A study from the CDC found little evidence of the virus spreading at schools when precautions were taken, such as wearing masks, social distancing and ventilating rooms. School districts in Utah and the governor outlined those very same safety steps over the summer.

Utah has prioritized teacher vaccines among the first groups, and school districts started working with health departments to give out doses in January. Many educators have now received both doses here.

President Joe Biden has proposed more than $170 billion for both K-12 schools and higher education institutions as part of his proposal to respond to the pandemic.

Fights between teachers unions and school districts have kept many schools closed across the country.

In Utah, the only district still not fully back with an in-person option is the Salt Lake City School District. They have been phasing their grades back in, with the rest of the upper classes being allowed back next week into classrooms.

Every other school district in Utah gave a choice between remote or in-person at the beginning of the school year. They have found with their test-to-stay programs and with data tracking, that Covid transmission in schools is actually extremely low.


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How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Obtain a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States