President BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE said Wednesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would likely issue guidance encouraging children who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus to wear masks in schools.
“The CDC is going to say that what we should do is, everyone under the age of 12 should probably be wearing a mask in school,” Biden said at a CNN town hall in Cincinnati on Wednesday evening.
“That’s probably what’s going to happen. Secondly, those over the age of 12 who are able to get vaccinated — if you’re vaccinated, you shouldn’t wear a mask, if you aren’t vaccinated, you should be wearing a mask,” he said.
Biden suggested that enforcing the guidance would be difficult but that it would be a “community responsibility.”
“It’s a matter of community responsibility and I think you’re going to see it work through,” Biden said.
Biden made the comments in response to an audience member running for a local school board who expressed concerns about the safety of children as schools return in the fall. States across the country have rescinded mask orders as people have gotten vaccinated.
While cases, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped off considerably since Biden took office, they have crept up recently as vaccination rates have plateaued and the more contagious delta variant has become the dominant strain in the U.S.
Children under the age of 12 are still not eligible to receive the vaccine and it’s unclear whether they will be by the time schools restart in the fall.
Biden predicted younger children will be eligible “soon” but made clear he would not rush scientists to approve the vaccines for those under the age of 12.
“I do not tell any scientist what they should do,” Biden said, prompting applause from the audience.
The CDC earlier this month encouraged schools to reopen for in-person learning this fall and said that fully vaccinated students and teachers do not need to wear masks indoors. The guidance also said that unvaccinated students and staff do not need to wear masks outside during gym or recess but encouraged them to do so in crowded indoor settings.
Biden’s remarks Wednesday indicate that the CDC will issue further guidance in the coming days or weeks for schools.