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Dr. Fauci: COVID Vaccination May One Day Be Required For Kids To Return To School, Depending On How U.S. Handles Latest Surge

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's leading infectious disease expert, has weighed in on a new COVID-19-related recommendation for when schools start back up in a few weeks.

This, as New York City lawmakers are still divided over how the Big Apple should continue to enforce coronavirus protocols, CBS2's John Dias reported Tuesday.

A pandemic plight between Mayor Bill de Blasio and some City Council members continues, as the Delta variant stands responsible for 69% of city COVID cases.

"Try and block what looks to be like another oncoming COVID-19 wave in New York City," Councilman Mark Levine said.

Levine, the chair of the Health Committee and Democratic nominee for Manhattan borough president, is pushing for the reinstatement of the indoor mask mandate.

"It's a better system that we need now, as cases are rising fast. And sadly, hospitalizations appear to be increasing now, too," Levine said.

READ MOREDe Blasio Says Mask Mandate Not The Solution To Growing COVID Cases, 'Vaccination Is'

But de Blasio still insists getting more people vaccinated will keep the city safe.

"Not wanting people to think, 'Oh, I have a mask so I don't need to be vaccinated,'" de Blasio said Tuesday. "If you're not getting vaccinated, you're actually causing harm to other people."

The mayor, who said he's looking at a range of options to get more people vaccinated, was asked if he was ready to use "sharper tools" to encourage people, CBS2's Dick Brennan reported.

"The approach of being inviting and welcoming and incentivizing, there is still definitely room to go with that, but we're looking at everything because we got to get people vaccinated," de Blasio said. "At a certain point, personal responsibility actually matters. So we've been really nice, really communicative, really respectful. I'm like, c'mon people, it's time to step forward and we're gonna make that clear."

The mayor is also fighting back against calls for public schools to go virtual again in the fall.

"We didn't have vaccination and we made our schools safe, with a gold star standard of health and safety measures," de Blasio said.

Councilman Mark Treyger, the chair of the Committee on Education, took to Twitter on Monday and said, in part: "DOE should offer a fall remote option for kids not of vaccination age."

A Bronx father of two told Dias he'd rather get his 7- and 8-year-old kids vaccinated than have them go through virtual learning again.

"Anything to keep them safe. I want to get back to where we were," said Gregory Feurtadl of Co-Op City. "We lost a whole year, in my opinion, because of this whole virtual thing. Kids need to be in school."

This comes as Fauci is backing new COVID guidance issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics that schools require face masks for children older than 2 and all adults, regardless of vaccination status, contradicting what the Centers for Disease Control is saying.

"There's an uptick in cases in virtually all the states in the United States, and for that reason they want to go the extra mile to make sure that the children are protected in school," Fauci said.

The nation's top infectious disease expert also said one day a COVID vaccine could be required for kids to return back to school.

"I would not be surprised that in the future this is something that would be seriously considered, depending upon how we handle the outbreak," Fauci said.

Fauci also said the CDC is now "carefully looking" at its COVID-19 school guidance.

Mayor de Blasio said the city, for now, is sticking with having kids wear masks when they return to school in the fall. He insisted he will have more updates on COVID protocols this week.

CBS2's Dick Brennan contributed to this report.


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