TEMPLE, TX — The debate on when and how kids can return back to school safely just got more complex as the Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said schools can reopen and teachers don’t need the vaccine to do it.
However, some local educators, like Rick Beaule, feel differently.
He’s a music teacher and the President of the Killeen Educators Association.
He believes it’s gonna take more than a vaccine for him to return to the classroom.
“No one's saying that we don't want to open schools, no one is saying that we don't want to be safe,” he explained. “The key is making sure that safety is the priority and not just the reopening.”
Temple ISD is familiar with safety plans to get students back to school with over 80% of its student population back at desks.
“It’s just an effort of everyone involved, we all know that this is important,” Christine Parks, the chief of communication at the district said. “We want to keep our students and our staff members safe and everyone has just really just been committed to this process.”
So, the question on many people’s minds is: Is it safe to return to in-person learning even before educators receive a COVID-19 vaccine? The Director of the CDC said yes.
"There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” Dr. Walensky said on Wednesday.
That advice can be misleading, according to Beaule.
“You have more than just a single variable that you have to deal with when you're trying to make a decision like that,” he said.
He explained that other factors need to be considered when it comes to reopening schools, like social distancing and mask wearing, especially when the vaccine rollout has been slower than expected.