PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are encouraging states to prioritize teachers getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but they said schools can safely re-open prior to vaccination.
They released the new guidelines for schools on Friday.
Officials with the CDC and Department of Education said they reviewed the science and talked with teachers and parents. They said, with precautions, schools can and should have in-person learning.
They also said schools should be the last to close and first to open over other businesses and activities. They stressed a layered mitigation approach with the top two priorities being mask-wearing for kids and staff and social distancing of six feet.
Guidelines also factor in the level of community spread of the virus and when it may be best to move to hybrid precautions can't be met.
Experts said the risk of transmission is greater outside schools than inside and it is more likely for the virus to spread teacher to teacher than student to teacher or student to student. Good ventilation and vaccination are recommended but are further down the list.
"We strongly encourage states and other school staff to prioritize teachers and other school staff to get vaccinated. If we want our children to receive in-person instruction, we must ensure teachers and staff are healthy and protected from getting COVID-19 outside of the school when they might be at greater risk," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
CDC: Schools can reopen safely prior to vaccinations