WASHINGTON— Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidelines for the safe reopening of schools. In response, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva issued the following statement:
“I appreciate the CDC and the Biden administration taking action to issue this desperately needed guidance that lays out clear steps schools should take to protect our children and get them back into the classroom. Reopening schools and keeping teachers and support staff safe does not need to be an ‘either-or’ issue. If we put an emphasis on vaccinating teachers now, we can ensure a safer return to in-person learning sooner. I am calling on the state to take corresponding action to make sure teachers and support staff are able to receive their vaccinations.
“While this guidance is needed progress, it’s little more than words without the corresponding ability of schools to implement these measures. Congress must pass the American Rescue Act now to get resources to schools so they can begin to update HVAC systems, provide for testing and screenings, and implement other critical safety protocols. Failure to do so will create more instances of inequity that negatively affect students in lower income and communities of color who are already disproportionately impacted by the virus.
“We must stop treating our schools as a bubble, and instead address the issue of broader community spread contributing to transmission among students, faculty, and staff when schools are re-opened for in-person learning. I am pleased the CDC acknowledges this, but I will continue to push for them to provide more detailed guidance to states and localities on mitigation measures that should be taken if communities are in transmission categories that prevent in-person learning. In this pandemic, everyone has a role to play in creating a safer atmosphere for our kids, teachers, and support staff.”
Rep. Grijalva has led congressional efforts to center schools in community guidelines for reopening. In December 2020, he led 18 House colleagues in a letter to then-CDC Director Robert Redfield urging him to center community guidelines on reopening around whether it was safe to reopen schools first.