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COVID-19 Numbers Low, as Back-to-School Debate Runs High

February 17, 2021

With 700,000 vaccines administered and COVID-19 infection rates trending down in Connecticut, the debate over when children should go back to school full time is ramping up.

“I think it would be great to have kids back in school – they have been out for almost a year now,” said Dr. Virginia Bieluch, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Hospital of Central Connecticut.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidelines say public schools can safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic if recommended safety measures are followed, including students and staff wearing masks and maintaining 6 feet of physical distancing inside school buildings where possible. Teacher and student vaccinations are not a must, according to the CDC, which has sparked controversy nationwide.

In Connecticut, teachers are part of two remaining Phase 1B groups that Gov. Ned Lamont says likely will become eligible for vaccinations in March. Teachers join frontline essential workers, such as grocery store employees, in Phase 1B with state residents who have cancer or other conditions that increase the risk of a severe COVID-19 illness.

“If the rate is low in the community and these (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines can be followed, then children should be offered the opportunity to attend school five days a week.” Dr. Bieluch said in an interview Feb. 17 with Fox61 news.

With Connecticut’s infection rate down to 2.8 percent, Hartford HealthCare’s mega vaccine sites opening and larger shipments of vaccines expected, the future looks brighter than it has in many months.

“I see encouraging signs,” Bieluch said.