Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the government's top public health experts, said Thursday that he supports re-opening schools under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I would back the CDC recommendations because that is really based on data… we need to try and get the children back to school and that's the goal of President Biden that in the next 100 days to get the K to eights back in school,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
CDC officials said in a study published on Tuesday that schools should resume in-person learning as soon as possible if social distancing and masks are properly enforced. The research, published online in the journal JAMA, offered guidance for local officials, school administrators, and parents on how to open schools safely while limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Download the TODAY app for the latest coverage on the coronavirus outbreak.
"Decisions made today can help ensure safe operation of schools and provide critical services to children and adolescents in the U.S.," the scientists said, adding that schools should limit activities that increase the risk of transmission, like indoor sports practices and competitions.
Reopening schools during the pandemic has become a political flashpoint across the country, but the new administration has vowed to reopen schools soon, which could serve as President Joe Biden’s first big test while in office.
“It's less likely for a child to get infected in the school setting than if they were just in the community,” Fauci said.
Meanwhile, Fauci said vaccine distribution is the “absolute top priority” of the Biden administration and they want to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as they can. Fauci predicted a sense of normalcy in the fall but warned that the coronavirus pandemic could get worse with the large number of current cases.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. is now over 25 million, according to NBC’s count, with more than 430,000 deaths. The U.S. has also counted more than 200,000 cases a day for most of December and January.
This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.