WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have updated safety guidelines for schools yet again after its data showed rising child hospitalizations because of the COVID-19 omicron variant.
In the wake of the newest update, school districts are struggling to adapt.
“The CDC is doing a disservice by changing its guidelines every nanosecond,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.
Weingarten said the CDC’s updated recommendations for school safety are counterproductive.
“I think it just creates more confusion,” said Weingarten.
The AFT president said educators are focused on keeping everyone safe and keeping kids in school. Despite the omicron surge, she says more than 90% of schools remain open. But she said more must be done.
“We need to prepare for contingencies like shortages,” Weingarten said. “We’ve got more weeks of tough sledding so let’s get the rapid tests to kids and educators. Let’s make sure people use them.”
Under guidelines released Thursday, teachers, staff and students who get COVID-19 can return to school after just five days if they haven’t had a fever for 24 hours and wear a mask for five more days. The CDC also recommends both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated staff undergo weekly testing.
Some school districts, like those in Chicago, are still opting to return to virtual learning despite the new rules.
“Of course, I want kids back in school,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Durbin says he hopes better directives encourage teachers and staff to return.
“I don’t ever want to put them in a dangerous situation when it comes to public health, but I want to defer to the experts,” said Durbin.
On Friday, the CDC strongly recommended all children 5 and up get their shots and boosters when eligible.