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CDC Director: Vaccinating teachers ‘not a prerequisite’ for safely reopening schools

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On Wednesday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that vaccinating teachers is “not a prerequisite” for schools to reopen safely, amid increasing calls from parents to return their children to in-person learning.

This also comes as teacher’s unions in multiple states have aggressively pushed back against reopening schools until teachers get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a White House press briefing regarding the coronavirus.

“Vaccinations of teachers is not a prerequisite for safely reopening schools,” she added.

In the past, Walensky has expressed that schools should be the first to open and the last to close during the pandemic.

Back in December, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to put “frontline essential workers”—including teachers—to next receive the coronavirus vaccine after first placing healthcare workers and those in nursing homes ahead of everyone else, per CNBC. Despite this, it might be a while until a majority of teachers receive their doses as the U.S. tries to speed up its vaccine rollout.

Last week, the CDC released a study in which it found scant evidence of the virus spreading at schools domestically and overseas when mask-wearing, social distancing, ventilating rooms were implemented.

In several states, teachers unions have been pushing back against reopening schools.

Notably, in California, teachers unions have said they that won’t send their members into an unsafe environment and that they want all teachers vaccinated before returning to the classroom, according to KTLA 5. Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) told school officials to “pack it up” if they fail to resume in-person classes soon.

In the state of Illinois, too, Chicago teachers are refusing to teach in person until they have received the vaccine, according to NBC News.

In Boston as well, teachers have made a similar push against reopening until they receive the vaccine, according to Boston.com.

Moreover, the Biden administration has published a COVID-19 rescue plan that includes providing schools and colleges with $170 billion to help them reopen, with some of that money going toward testing.

Jeff Zients, President Joe Biden’s coronavirus chief, said Wednesday that the president has been “very clear” that he wants schools to “reopen and to stay open.”

“That means every school has the equipment and the resources to open safely,” he said at the press briefing, calling on Congress to “do its part” by passing Biden’s coronavirus plan.

“Not just private schools or schools in wealthy areas but all schools,” Zients emphasized.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Virginia Public Schools Reinstates Two Books Despite Complaints of Pedophilia and Pornography

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Fairfax County Public Schools has reinstated two books despite complaints from parents that the literature depicted and legitimized obscene and pedophilic material. Parents confronted the school board with the graphic images contained in the books beginning in September. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) announced the books were restored to libraries after two committees reviewed them.

The books, “Lawn Boy” and “Gender Queer” have been determined by the District as helpful to the LGBTQ community. Fox News reports “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison includes long sections of a boy reminiscing about explicit experiences he had at 10 years old. “Gender Queer: A Memoir” is by Maia Kobabe and includes photos of sexual acts between a boy and a man.

Virginia mother and president of Parents Defending Education, Nicole Nelly, told Fox News last week, “It’s appalling that Fairfax County’s response to parental feedback is to quibble over the definition of ‘pedophilia’ and to shame and denigrate families who are concerned about this material.”

“By attempting to normalize this content – and reinstating these books under cover of darkness right before Thanksgiving break – FCPS has demonstrated that in their eyes, parental input is a bug, not a feature, in the system” added Nelly.

In an interview with Fox News, Stacy Langton, one of the mothers who first confronted the school board, says “plenty” of Democrats and liberals are also calling her to say they “don’t want their kids exposed to this in school…this is FCPS coming out and explicitly saying they are in favor of porn in schools for your children.”

FCPS, however, claims that two committees comprised of school administrators, librarians, parents, and students determined that the books did not contain pedophilia, nor did they violate regulations by including obscene material.

“The decision reaffirms FCPS’s ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect on our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters” said FCPS in a released statement.

“Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journeys” the statement continued.

Michael Sabbeth, Colorado attorney and author of “The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk With Children About Values” says “the Board’s assertion cleverly employs a logical fallacy—a strawman argument.”

While the board’s “refutation alleges the material affirms students with ‘marginalized identities’ and acknowledges the ‘difficulties nonbinary and asexual individuals may face’, their justification ignores and fails to negate allegations of obscenity, pornography and or pedophilia” states Sabbeth.

“Ironically, the Board’s justification demeans those it alleges to support. If, for example, pedophilia is in a book, arguing it helps youngsters is morally beneath contempt. To virtuously support those individuals, the Board need do no more than advance this unambiguous message: Treat all people respectfully” Sabbeth concludes.

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