On Wednesday, President Biden’s new head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a message for New Hampshire’s teachers unions and their Democratic Party allies:
“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, adding that “safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely.”
Her statement comes just days after the release of a CDC study showing “COVID-19 outbreaks related to kindergarten through grade 12 (K–12) classroom settings have been rarely reported.” It’s just the latest in a series of studies, both in the U.S. and abroad, showing little to no spread of COVID in classroom settings.
“The CDC statement today simply confirms what we have known in New Hampshire all along, we can create – and have created – safe learning environments for our students and teachers,” NH Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut told NHJournal.
The CDC’s statement backs up Gov. Chris Sununu’s long-time contention that teachers didn’t need to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine before returning safely to Granite State classrooms.
“The CDC Director’s comments are consistent with the data and studies that show that with proper safety protocols in place, schools can be open safely for in-person learning,” Sununu said Wednesday. “I urge the Union leadership in New Hampshire that have been resistant to follow the science, to embrace the Biden Administration’s call for schools to reopen for in-person learning. The will of the students is there, the will of the parents is there, and the science is there. It’s time to get these kids back in the classroom.”
New Hampshire’s largest teachers union, the NEA-NH, has declined to respond to repeated requests for any data showing classroom instruction presents a risk to young, healthy educators. And they are still holding out for more spending and vaccinations before they will support returning to classrooms.
NEA-NH President Megan Tuttle went so far as to say teachers are “first responders” who should be vaccinated before elderly and at-risk Granite Staters because they sometimes deal with children’s minor cuts and scrapes in the classroom.
Sununu responded by accusing the union and its partisan supporters of politicizing vaccinations and ignoring the science.
“It’s become clear, frankly, that there’s a lot of leadership within the teacher’s union — as well as some in local leadership — who have politicized the vaccination process,” Sununu said last month. “They’re saying that teachers need the vaccine for schools to open.”
“That is completely wrong,” Sununu said. “That’s 100 percent false.”
Parents, particularly in working-class and low-income families bearing the brunt of the classroom lockdowns, are becoming increasingly angry at the union’s recalcitrance. In Nashua, a group of parents is organizing a recall of school board members who, they believe, have caved to pressure from the teachers union and kept classrooms closed.
“Given the extensive guidance from the CDC, Nashua schools should not continue to remain closed,” said Allison Dyer with Nashua Parent Voice. “I have had heard from so many parents and families that the continued school closures — despite continued guidance such as this from the CDC that it’s safe to return — are literally and figuratively destroying our children. Our children’s mental well-being and health are at continued risk.”
Supporters of education alternatives believe this frustration will help bring about long-awaited education reform, such as the Education Freedom Accounts currently being debated in Concord.
“Teachers unions have done more to advance school choice this year than anyone could have ever imagined,” says Corey DeAngelis, Director of School Choice at the Reason Foundation.