This week has brought a few dizzying updates to the year-long school-reopening story.
In a surprise move, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its COVID-19 safety guidance, telling people who have been fully vaccinated that, with some exceptions, they can now gather indoors as well as outside without face masks or social distancing. The announcement came just one day after the CDC also gave the green light for children ages 12 to 15 to begin receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
What does all of this mean for schools? It's complicated.
The vaccination expansion is certainly good news for families and for school leaders who want to see their middle schools fully reopen. It likely won't have much impact on many districts' plans for the remainder of the school year, since children receiving their first shot won't be considered "fully" vaccinated for five more weeks, but it will certainly make it easier for classrooms to fully reopen in the fall if many students return vaccinated.
It's worth mentioning, though, that allowing younger children to be vaccinated doesn't guarantee they will be. Recent polling from the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor found considerable vaccine hesitancy among the families of early adolescents. Nearly a quarter said they would definitely not vaccinate their children, while a quarter remained undecided. Another 18% said they would allow their child to be vaccinated if schools require it, and just 30% of caregivers said their children would get the shot as soon as possible.