In a speech about the country’s path out of the pandemic today President Joe Biden called on governors to require the vaccination of teachers and school staff and increase testing of unvaccinated students and staff.
Connecticut is already requiring vaccinations or weekly testing for educators and has made testing for students in grades k-6 available to districts. CEA President Kate Dias told NBC Connecticut that the process of expanding that testing to include unvaccinated adults should be straightforward.
“In terms of mitigating the spread of this virus, we have to understand where it lives and breathes and where to stop its motion, and that’s what testing allows for us to do,” she said.
President Biden encouraged parents with children ages 12 years and older to get them vaccinated, and assured parents of younger students that he is providing every resource necessary to the FDA to support a timely review of vaccines for younger children.
The FDA is scheduled to meet on September 17 to review booster data on the Pfizer vaccine and could authorize boosters for individuals who have been fully vaccinated for eight months or more soon after. Biden said that the government has doses ready to go. “As soon as they’re authorized, you’ll be able to get boosters right away,” he said.
Dias said that in states where districts are not requiring masking, social distancing, and other strategies, COVID is spreading in schools. “The science is telling us that, if we’re getting everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible, we are testing individuals, and we are masking up, we should be able to keep schools open, which is always our priority.”
She acknowledged, however, that even with the best mitigation strategies, outbreaks can occur and force schools to go remote, as has already happened this year in Hebron. “We 100 percent want to be thinking about a plan to do that in a way that has the best possible outcomes for students by using our remote strategies and tapping into educators’ expertise that they’ve really honed and crafted in this last year.”
Biden assured educators teaching in states where governors have threatened sanctions against school staff for implementing COVID safety measures that the U.S. Department of Education has already begun to take legal action.
“Any teacher or school official whose pay is taken away for doing the right thing, their pay will be restored 100 percent by the federal government,” Biden said.
Read the president’s complete plan for keeping schools safely open.