As the nation continues to debate whether to send students back to school this fall, at least one famous health expert has come out as a major advocate for getting kids in the classroom by September.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told ABC's "Good Morning America" Wednesday it's "critical" to get the schools open because of the health consequences connected to keeping kids out of school.
Redfield said that he believes schools can open safely — and is so certain of it that he would have no problem sending his own grandkids to school.
What did he say?
The CDC director began his interview touting the importance of masks and reminding viewers that there's data showing that face masks work to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
"If all Americans would embrace that [masks] as part of their personal responsibility to confront this outbreak, we could actually have a very significant impact on the outbreak that we're seeing across the country in the next four, six, eight, 10, 12 weeks," Redfield said.
But, he did not go so far as to agree with host Cecilia Vega that the federal government should mandate masks nationwide.
"Why not just mandate this nationally and make people wear a mask?" Vega asked.
"I'm not sure that mandating makes sense," Redfield replied. "I think the issue is how to motivate all Americans to do that. It's obviously an independent decision that the individual governors are making."
With that out of the way, Redfield addressed the need to get kids back in school.
Asked about how realistic it is to get little kids to stay six feet apart at lunch and recess, the director said that getting the students back in school is itself a public health issue.
"It's really important to get our schools open," Redfield answered. "As I've said, it's not public health versus opening the schools for the economy. It's public health versus public health. I think there really are a number of negative public health consequences that have happened to our K-12s by having these schools closed."
He emphasized the importance of working with the schools to implement the CDC's social distancing and face mask guidelines.
"It's so important now to work together with the school districts to figure out how they can take our guidelines and operationalize them in a practical way," he said, "and to do it in a way that's safe for those that are vulnerable."
What about his grandkids?
Vega asked Redfield if he would be comfortable with his school-age grandchildren going back to school in the fall.
"Absolutely," the doctor said.
"The only one that there may be some reservation is my grandson with cystic fibrosis, depending on how he can be accommodated in the school that he's in," Redfield said. "My other 10 grandchildren, of those, eight of them are school-aged, I'm 100% that they can get back to school."
.@ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: @CDCDirector Dr. Robert Redfield on how bad the COVID-19 crisis could get. “It is very hard t… https://t.co/dLTVRgWyoA— Good Morning America (@Good Morning America) 1595416621.0