CDC releases new guidelines to help schools reopen safely this fall

FILE – In this Tuesday, June 23, 2020 file photo, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, left, listens during a House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Sarah Silbiger/Pool via AP)

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UPDATED 12:25 PM PT — Friday, July 24, 2020

The CDC has issued an extensive list of new guidelines and tools to help schools safely reopen in September. Agency Director Dr. Robert Redfield announced the resources in a press release this week.

He has expressed how important it is for students to resume in-person learning.

“I think there really are a number of negative public health consequences that have happened to our K-12s by having these schools closed,” said Redfield. “It’s so important to work together with school districts to figure out how they can take our guidelines and operationalize them in a practical way.”

The guidelines, which are explained in depth on the agency’s website, stated schools must actively encourage teachers, students and staff to wash their hands, wear face masks and practice social distancing. Learning spaces must be properly ventilated and shared objects must be disinfected.

School officials will also need to develop a plan to conduct case tracing in the event an individual tests positive. Meanwhile, parents and caregivers will be responsible for monitoring and responding to symptoms at home.

Fairfax County Public School buses parked at a middle school in Falls Church, Va., Monday, July 20, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The American Academy of Pediatrics has acknowledged that states are experiencing different levels of coronavirus transmission and recently asked schools to consider what’s best for their situation.

“This does not mean that we recommend all schools opening five days a week for the start of the school year. Many parts of the country are experiencing uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. While we urge those areas to keep in-person learning as a goal, we recognize that they will have to utilize distance learning strategies until cases decline.” – Dr. Sean O’Leary, Pediatrics Infectious Diseases Specialist, UCSM

In South Carolina, for example, the number of new infections is climbing, but the number of deaths remains stable. Moving forward, parents will have the option to either enroll their children in a yearlong virtual program or one that phases gradually into a physical classroom setting.

“In the summer, I think we all really hoped that COVID would disappear, that we would be in a position that where we would be able to operate 100% normally without any caveats,” stated elementary school principal Susan Stevens. “We’re just not there.”

According to reports, over 55 million students were impacted by COVID-19 closures this past spring. That’s roughly 97% of the country’s entire student population.

Based on the best available evidence from counties that have already reopened schools, the CDC has insisted that the virus poses a relatively “low risk” to children under the age of 12.

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