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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield said Thursday that schools should not be closed during the coronavirus pandemic as they are a safe place for children.

“The truth is for kids K–12, one of the safest places they can be, from our perspective, is to remain in school,” Redfield said during a press briefing at the White House with the coronavirus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence.

Redfield urged public officials to follow the data and steer clear from “emotional decisions” about closing schools.

“I’m here to say clearly the data strongly supports that K–12, as well as institutions of higher learning, really are not where we are having our challenges,” he said.

The few virus cases that were identified in schools, he said, were the result of gathering in public or contracting the virus in small family gatherings.

Redfield even said that keeping kids in school was critical to overall public health.

“It would be counterproductive from my point of view, from a public health point of view, just in containing the epidemic, if there was an emotional response to say, ‘Let’s close the schools.’”

He reminded reporters that the CDC did not advise closing schools at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, nor during the current spike, arguing that the data proved it was safe.

“Extensive data gathered in the last few months proved that K–12 schools could be open for in-person, face-to-face learning safely and responsibly,” he said.

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