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CDC releases new coronavirus guidelines for schools

'It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall'

Des Moines Public Schools custodian Joel Cruz cleans a desk in a classroom at Brubaker Elementary School, Wednesday, July 8, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. School districts that plan to reopen classrooms in the fall are wrestling with whether to require teachers and students to wear face masks. In Iowa, among other places, where Democratic-leaning cities like Des Moines and Iowa City have required masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus, while smaller, more conservative communities have left the decision to parents. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Des Moines Public Schools custodian Joel Cruz cleans a desk in a classroom at Brubaker Elementary School, Wednesday, July 8, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. School districts that plan to reopen classrooms in the fall are wrestling with whether to require teachers and students to wear face masks. In Iowa, among other places, where Democratic-leaning cities like Des Moines and Iowa City have required masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus, while smaller, more conservative communities have left the decision to parents. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

This week, the Centers for Disease Control Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its coronavirus guidelines for schools returning this fall.

It’s the CDC’s first update to these school return guidelines since the spring.

“This guidance is intended to aid school administrators as they consider how to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of students, teachers, other school staff, their families, and communities and prepare for educating students this fall,” reads a statement from the CDC.

The CDC is making it’s opinion on reopening schools very clear:

“It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield. “The CDC resources released today will help parents, teachers and administrators make practical, safety-focused decisions as this school year begins. I know this has been a difficult time for our Nation’s families. School closures have disrupted normal ways of life for children and parents, and they have had negative health consequences on our youth. CDC is prepared to work with K-12 schools to safely reopen while protecting the most vulnerable.”

Despite the strong recommendation for a return to in-person classes, the CDC does warn that community spread of the virus could lead to another closure.

The guidelines include the CDC’s information on:

  • Impact of COVID-19 on children
  • What is known about how schools have reopened and the impact on SARS-CoV-2 transmission
  • Why it is Important to open schools for in-person instruction? (according to the CDC)
  • How K-12 schools can prepare for going back to in-person instruction
  • Read it all here.

From the CDC:

Key considerations for school administrators:

  • COVID-19 transmission rates in the immediate community and in the communities in which students, teachers, and staff live
  • Approaches to cohorting that fit the needs of your school/district and community (e.g., keeping students in class pods, staggering when students return to school facility, having the same teacher stay with the same group of students)
    • Can unused or underutilized school spaces, including outdoor spaces, be repurposed to increase classroom space and facilitate social distancing?
  • Concurrently implementing multiple strategies in school to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (e.g., social distancing, cloth face coverings, hand hygiene, and use of cohorting)
  • Best practices for your school and community to communicate, educate, and reinforce personal protective behaviors to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in school and in the community
  • Integrating strategies to reduce COVID-19 transmission into co-curricular and extracurricular activities (e.g., limiting participation in activities where social distancing is not feasible)
  • Planning and preparing for when someone gets sick
  • Working with state and local health authorities to develop a plan to conduct contact tracing in the event of a positive case
  • Communicating appropriately to families about home-based symptom screening

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