By Jessica Vallejo

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The nation’s top public health agency says teachers and students can safely return to the classroom, even in areas with high rates of COVID-19 transmission, If and only certain mitigation steps are taken.

“Schools are safe places as long as the mitigation strategies are followed,” said Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent.

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Some of the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include safely wearing a mask and social distancing.

Carvalho says it’s what they have been doing, “Now, we are in a privileged position. We have been using those mitigation strategies since October 5th.

“What we need to do is make sure teachers and students continue to wash their hands, we continue contract tracing and they follow these protocols not just in the schools,” said Karla Hernández-Mats, President of United Teachers of Dade.

But vaccinating teachers was not one of the CDC’s prerequisites for re-opening.

“Even though it is not a prerequisite for the reopening of schools, it is certainly a strong recommendation that we as a school board have been advocating for a long period of time.”

The CDC also provided a roadmap for reopening K-through 12 schools, as well as, a color-coded system based on the rate of COVID-19 transmission in each community:

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Blue zones have low transmission — and are open for full in-person learning.
Yellow is moderate transmission — but those schools can also stay open.
Orange means substantial transmission — and schools should switch to hybrid learning and reduce attendance.
Red means middle and high schools should switch to virtual learning *if* there’s no regular testing. If testing is done, all schools should use a hybrid model.

“You know I have said this to people if our society did what our school district has done, we would probably not have any spread of the coronavirus.”

Over in Broward County, Superintendent of Schools Robert Runcie says they followed all CDC guidelines.

The Broward Teachers Union says that is not the case. They have since put Runcie on notice that the District will face potential legal liability if they continue to ignore safety protocols in classroom settings.

“We want more accountability on contract tracing,” said Anna Fusco, President of Broward Teachers Union.

Earlier President Joe Biden released a statement saying this was one of his goals.

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With the CDC now giving these guidelines, he said more schools will soon be opening.

Jessica Vallejo