Teachers join frontline workers concerned about CDC’s new mask guidelines

WASHINGTON – The country’s second-largest teachers’ union says the recent change in hiding guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes an “exhausted and sometimes scapegoat” workforce, with some states banning masks already in schools, according to a letter obtained by NBC News.

“With the school year ending in a few weeks, we were hoping to have time this summer to prepare and incorporate any new COVID-19 directions into our back-to-school plans,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. in the letter to CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

“Sadly, some states have rushed to act, such as Texas, which has eliminated its mask mandates altogether, regardless of age, even though vaccines have yet to be approved for those under 12 and under. 50% of the American population fully is. vaccinated, ”said Weingarten, who represents 1.7 million members.

Iowa also passed a law prohibiting K-12 schools from requiring masks and prohibiting cities and counties from requiring masks in businesses. Governor Kim Reynolds said in a statement she was “proud to be governor of a state that values ​​personal responsibility and individual freedoms.”

The CDC changed its guidelines on masks last week, saying fully vaccinated people no longer need them in most places, leading to a cascade of states changing their rules.

The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Walensky has said the CDC will issue new guidelines for schools, but it’s unclear when that will happen. She stressed that “evolving science” drove the decision and that the CDC wanted to share the science with Americans as quickly as possible.

The sudden change caught some stakeholders off guard, including unions representing frontline workers. It has also led to confusion, in part over how to verify that people are fully vaccinated, and to criticism from some scientists that it is premature to abandon masking policies with a significant percentage of people in the United States. still unvaccinated.

The country the largest union of registered nurses called on the CDC to reconsider its guidance, saying it was not in the best public health interest.

Recent studies have shown that people who are immunocompromised do not generate such a strong immune response to vaccines, which puts them at risk, especially since most children are not vaccinated. It is unreasonable to expect millions of people who have resisted wearing masks to be outspoken and continue to wear them regardless of their vaccination status, critics say.

The change leaves many unanswered questions in schools, in particular, Weingarten said, including whether the CDC continues to make masking a priority in all elementary schools, with 3 feet of social distancing. The union also wants to know the strategies and protocols recommended by the agency to check the vaccination status of students.

Other questions are whether children under 12, who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, should remain masked inside and out, the letter says, and whether the CDC will give advice on how to mix classes of students who claim to be vaccinated with children who are not eligible for vaccines due to health or age reasons.

About Geraldine Higgins

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