CDC releases guidelines for schools to reopen

CDC releases guidelines for schools to reopen”

U.S. health officials issued guidelines for reopening schools as districts across the country weigh whether to bring kids back amid the coronavirus pandemic, a move that follows calls by President Donald Trump for classrooms to resume in-person instruction this fall. Some state leaders, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, had chafed at Trump's earlier push to reopen schools.

In a news conference Friday to discuss its new guidelines, CDC Director Robert Redfield suggested that it's appropriate for school officials to exercise more caution in areas of the country "where the percent positivity rate within the community is greater than 5%". School closures have disrupted normal ways of life for children and parents, and they have had negative health consequences on our youth.

"Schools are an important part of the infrastructure of communities, and they provide safe, supportive learning environments for students, employ teachers and other staff, and enable parents, guardians and caregivers to work", the CDC said in the guidelines.

"Children appear to be at lower risk for contracting COVID-19 compared to adults".

"Scientific studies suggest that COVID-19 transmission among children in schools may be low". It also said evidence suggests Covid-19 has relatively few risks for school-aged children, though it said worldwide studies have looked in areas with low community transmission.

The guidelines said children aren't the biggest driving force of transmitting the virus in families. "Expecting and planning for the occurrence of cases of COVID-19 in communities can help everyone be prepared for when a case or multiple cases are identified".

The guidance said children get mental health services, food, physical exercise, speech therapy, safety from unsafe neighborhoods and homes, and other services from school.

Children are not spared from severe illness, said panelist Tina Tan, MD, a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

In-person instruction may be particularly beneficial for students with additional learning needs, some of which may not be able to be met as easily remotely.

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The guidelines also account for communities that have "uncontrolled transmission".

With the virus still rampant in many parts of the country, a number of cities including Houston and Los Angeles have already announced that schools will reopen virtually. It laid out a range of measures depending on the level of spread.

During his Thursday evening coronavirus briefing, President Trump conceded that in hot spots, school districts "may need to delay reopening for a few weeks". Even as he tempered his position, Trump insisted that every school should be "actively making preparations to open".

Trump, a Republican who is seeking re-election in November, has accused Democrats of wanting to keep schools shut for political reasons and threatened to cut off federal funding to schools that do not reopen.

Redfield has sought to change the conversation around reopening by highlighting the public health concerns that arise if schools are closed for too long.

Florida, the coronavirus hot spot in the US, has required schools to reopen in August, The Miami Herald reported. It's meant to help schools reduce class sizes, hire teachers, rearrange spaces and provide masks, he said. "The stress and apprehension it fosters just makes our health situation worse and knocks society on its heels".

According to the CDC, people under the age of 18 account for almost 7% of cases and less than 0.1% of COVID-19 deaths in the United States.

In response to a reporter's question, Redfield admitted the new guidelines were vetted by the Department of Homeland Security and officials at the White House.

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