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CDC Could Lay Out School Reopening Guidance This Week

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The CDC is expected to release guidance this week on how to safely get children back into the classrooms.

It was one of the topics that President Joe Biden discussed with CBS News' Norah O'Donnell in his first TV interview since taking office.

In that interview, President Biden said it's time to safely reopen schools, and the CDC could release their guidance as soon as Wednesday this week.

"I think it's time for schools to reopen safely. Safely. You have to have fewer people in the classroom. You have to have ventilation systems that have been reworked," he said.

Southwestern Pennsylvania school leaders say we need a plan first.

"I think you're seeing that all over the country -- these mandates and directives to go back, but that's it," Woodland Hills Superintendent James Harris said.

Harris said about 99% of the district is on virtual learning. He said teachers and staff need to be a priority in getting the vaccine.

"I understand the president and many families want to see in-person instruction; however, we need to take into account the safety of the instructors," Harris said.

With the vaccine rollout woes, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers doesn't know when Phase 1B will start, so they can get their vaccines.

"We have no idea on when our teachers are going to be vaccinated and that really threw a wrench into things," Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visigitis said.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board pushed back in-school learning to April.

Many teachers and staff have said they want to get the vaccine before returning to the classroom.

Pittsburgh Public says they are working with the Allegheny County Health Department and UPMC to develop a plan to get staff vaccinated sooner.

Other concerns for Pittsburgh Public Schools include ventilation and transportation.

"Nobody wants to get back into classrooms more than teachers. Don't forget teachers are parents, too," Esposito-Visgitis said.

Other school districts, including Penn Hills, have been phasing in students. Superintendent Dr. Nancy Hines says she feels this may be the best approach to preventing spread after seeing it work in her district.

According to reports, the CDC is expected to release more guidance as early as Wednesday.

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