Schools May ‘Shut Down’ More This Year Over COVID-19: Ex-CDC Doctor


  • A former acting CDC director says he expects schools to “shut down” more this year over COVID-19.
  • Dr. Richard Besser told the “Today” show that the fall would be “really challenging for schools.”
  • There has been an uptick in COVID-19 cases among children across the US.

School buildings across the US may be “forced to shut down” more this year than last year as COVID-19 cases continue to spike throughout the country, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said Tuesday.

Dr. Richard Besser, a former acting director of the CDC, said during an interview on NBC News’ “Today” show that with the highly transmissible Delta variant being the dominant coronavirus strain in the country, “I expect that it’s going to jump around different classrooms and schools will be forced to shut down more than they did in fact last year.”

Last year, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, schools across the US closed their doors and switched over to remote learning.

“I think this fall is going to be really challenging for schools,” Besser said. “I think children belong in the classroom. But what we’re going to see is little outbreaks, clusters in different schools, schools shutting down, reopening.

“The more we can do to reduce the number of times that happens, the better. And wearing masks for everyone will help to accomplish that.”

So far, COVID-19 vaccines in the US are authorized only for people ages 12 and older, and Besser encouraged parents themselves to get inoculated against the virus.

“That’s the most important thing you can do to protect your child,” Besser said. “But what we’re going to see is schools doing their best to keep children in the classroom but recognizing when there’s significant spreading in school they may need to shut down for a period of time to let things cool down.”

A newly released weekly report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association described an uptick in COVID-19 cases among children.

Nearly 94,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded in children last week, according to the report, which noted it’s “a continuing substantial increase.”

“After declining in early summer, child cases have steadily increased since the beginning of July,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said.

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