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White House Advisor Speaks on Open Schools and Omicron



Mayor Eric Adams was adamant when he said, “Schools are the safest place for children.” With that in mind, Our Time Press had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Cameron Webb, a Senior Policy Advisor for the White House COVID-19 Response Team and asked about that policy.

Dr. Webb said, “It’s a social and emotional imperative for us to keep kids in school and that’s what we are going to work to do no matter what. Whether that means more testing in schools, whether that means we’re really encouraging parents to get more kids vaccinated…and making sure teachers are vaccinated getting students and teachers are all vaccinated, those are the things we’re trying to do to protect those schools.”
Noting he has two elementary school aged children himself, Webb said, “All parents have learned how critical it is for kids to be in school,” and “Most would agree we want to keep schools open and functioning as much as possible.”
“Of course, their safety is paramount, and part of their safety are the emotional and social dynamics and the importance of getting hot meals at school. Of having counselors and caring adults who are there to take care of them, to teach them and feed them, and nourish them in different ways. So we want to protect that space as much as we can.”

On Omicron
“Omicron move faster and is more unforgiving. That’s why masks are important. People are most likely to spread the virus in the two days before they’re symptomatic and the three days afterward, and that’s where the CDC guidelines came from, in terms of the science. They decided to cut that isolation period down to five days instead of ten. Trying to focus in on exactly what the science is saying.”
There’s a lot of information we’re still learning about this newest variant. We have learned that our vaccines are still effective and that’s a tool we continue to use.”
As they learn and the CDC updates based on the science, the policy follows.

Dr. B. Cameron Webb is a physician and lawyer who works at the intersection of health and social justice. He is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Public Health Science at the University of Virginia, where he works as a hospitalist in the Department of Medicine and serves as co-director of the Department of Public Health Science’s Health Policy Program. He recently completed a year as a 2016-17 White House Fellow. In his time spanning the Obama and Trump administrations, his portfolio included education, workforce and criminal justice reform work through President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, as well as White House healthcare policy work in both administrations [National Association of counties]

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