CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield says teachers are ‘critical workers’ just like doctors, and need to continue showing up to schools even after possible exposure to COVID-19.
In a telebriefing on Friday, Redfield stressed the importance of educators as classrooms across the country reopen for in-person learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
‘I would just underscore how important our teachers are. I mean, their vocation is extremely important,’ the top doctor stated.
He added: ‘You know they didn’t need to be formally recognized as critical infrastructure workers, because I think we all know they are.’
According to Yahoo, Redfield then ‘drew a parallel to being a physician, a vocation in which individuals have had to “stay in the arena” — implying that teachers may need to do the same as well.’
Redfield’s assertion that teachers are essential workers echoes The White House’s claim earlier this week.
CNN reported on Friday that ‘Vice President Mike Pence announced that decision to governors on a call’.
‘Under Department of Homeland Security guidance, , teachers are now considered “critical infrastructure workers” and are subject to the same kinds of advisories as other workers who have borne that label –such as doctors and law enforcement officers.’
The designation comes as schools across the country have begun re-opening for the 2020-2021 academic year, with the decision causing deep divides in many communities.
Teacher’s unions have blasted the move, despite the fact doctors, nurses, first responders and grocery store workers continue to risk their own health by showing up to work each day.
In a statement, the National Education Association told Yahoo: ‘If the Trump administration truly valued educators, it would have listened to their concerns months ago about safety and it wouldn’t be blocking another desperately needed coronavirus relief package that could provide schools with what they need to safely and equitably continue educating students during this pandemic’.
‘Instead, this administration is trying to extort educators into a [reckless] reopening that risks lives.’
Schools in several states have already been forced to close just days after reopening because students and faculty tested positive to COVID-19.
When quizzed on whether teachers should continue showing up to work after possible exposure to the virus, Redfield told the teleconference that the decision would ‘have to be worked out on a school-by-school, local-community-by-local-community’.
However, earlier this week, Redfield touted new data that showed daycare centers had safely reopened in Rhode Island.
A CDC report found that the state was able to reopen day care programs in the summer without high rates of coronavirus spread.
Out of the state’s 666 programs that opened, there were 52 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 at 29 centers.
Just 13 percent – four facilities – had outbreaks in which children or adults spread the virus to others.
Redfield held the study up as an example that could be replicated across the country.
He told reporters on a media call that the findings indicate there is a path ‘to get these childcare programs to reopen, which are very important for our country.’
Redfield did not say that daycare centers and schools were similar in terms of the transmission of the virus.
However, many others have stated that the spread of COVID-19 among children is low, and schools should therefore reopen as normal.
The United States is struggling to stem the spread of the deadly virus.
As of Saturday, more than 5.6 million Americans have tested positive to COVID-19, and 175 350 have died.