Center for Vaccine Development director Dr. Peter Hotez said Friday on CNN's "The Lead" that public schools should delay opening for a couple weeks because of the highly infectious Omicron variant of COVID.

Center for Vaccine Development director Dr. Peter Hotez said Friday on CNN's "The Lead" that public schools should delay opening for a couple weeks because of the highly infectious Omicron variant of COVID.

Center for Vaccine Development director Dr. Peter Hotez said Friday on CNN’s “The Lead” that public schools should delay opening for a couple weeks because of the highly infectious Omicron variant of COVID.

Guest anchor Kaitlan Collins said, “What’s coming up after the new year holiday is that a lot of students are going back to class after being home for the holiday break. Earlier this week, you said that trying to open schools at this point, it’s hard to see how things can go well. So why not? why can’t they go well given what state we are in the pandemic?”

Hotez said, “Well, you know, for instance, with K through 12 you’re going to have a lot of teachers who are exposed who have the virus who may have to stay at home, bus drivers, all of the cafeteria workers and, of course, the students as well. So that’s going to be very disruptive. I think it’s noble to try, but the reality is, with this highly transmissible variant, you’re almost better off just saying, let’s delay the opening for a couple of weeks and maybe fill it up on the back end and have a longer summer term.”

He added, “Nobody wants to hear that. We know the effects of not having kids in school. We just had the surgeon general issue a very important report on the mental health aspects of having kids at home, out of school, and in terms of their mental health. But the reality is the reality. It’s going to be really challenging to open schools on Monday.”

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Pam Key