CDC Releases Guidelines for School Reopening

Corrugated plastic sheet partition on the tables in the cafeteria at school during its reopening. (123rf)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released long-awaited guidelines for reopening schools, placing strong emphasis on having the students back into the classroom.

The guidelines described at length the social, emotional and mental risks of students staying at home and learning remotely, and encouraged schools to resume in-person instruction in line with the recommendations that CDC has suggested for the reopening of other entities. These guidelines include disinfecting surfaces regularly, and maintaining social distancing through spacing out students and re-purposing unused or underutilized space, and even moving classes outside where possible. Additional suggestions of keeping students in “pods”, where the same groups stay together throughout the school day.

Schools were also encouraged to have a plan for what to do when someone gets sick, however the guidelines said it would not be necessary to shut the entire school if just a single person tested positive.

Some of the largest school districts in the country have decided to continue all-remote learning in the fall. President Trump alluded that these decisions by districts not to resume in-person learning were politically motivated.

“I hope that local leaders put the full health and well-being of their students first and make the right decision for parents, teachers and not make political decisions, this is about something very, very important,” Trump said. “If the school is closed, the money should follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions. So I would like the money to go to the parents of the student.”

Although the CDC’s guidance put a sharp focus on the necessity of in-person learning, it also emphasized that there is a physical risk to returning students to the classroom, noting that some children, like those who have developmental disabilities, an underlying condition, certain neurological conditions, or who have congenital heart disease, may be at increased risk.

“Parents, guardians, and caregivers should weigh the relative health risks of COVID-19 transmission from in-personal instruction against the educational, social-behavioral, and emotional risks of providing no in-person instruction when deciding between these two options,” the guidelines said, adding that “if you, your child, or a household member are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, you will need to weigh the benefits, risks, and feasibility of the educational options available.”

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