CDC says schools should ‘prioritize’ fully reopening this fall

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CDC says schools should ‘prioritize’ fully reopening this fall

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called for the full reopening of K-12 schools in the fall — even if not all preferred COVID-19 safety measures can be upheld.

“Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority,” the agency wrote in new guidance issued Friday.

The CDC still recommends schools maintain “at least 3 feet of physical distance” between students indoors, but the agency included a surprising caveat.

“When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking,” it wrote.

However, the agency conceded that fully vaccinated kids do not need to wear masks inside classrooms.

Other “important layers of prevention” include testing, ventilation, handwashing and contract tracing, the agency said.

“Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies … to protect people who are not fully vaccinated, including students, teachers, staff, and other members of their households,” the health agency wrote.

Kindergartner Allyson Zavala joins with other students and school superintendent Austin Buetner for a class selfie at teacher Alicia Pizzis classroom as they meet for the first time in more than a year at Maurice Sendak Elementary.
The CDC still recommends schools maintain “at least 3 feet of physical distance” between students indoors.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag
First grade students of teacher Marcela Tiscareno return to the classroom at the 9th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles on April 13, 2021. Around 12 students returned for the gradual reopening of LAUSD schools with kindergartners and 1st graders participating at the school. Some Los Angeles Unified Schools reopened for in-person classes, with safety standards and mandatory COVID-19 testing of students in place. The Los Angeles school district began a gradual and partial reopening plan on Tuesday, one that was heavily influenced by teachers union demands that led to a delayed start date and limited live instructional time  and also by strict safety imperatives shared by both the district and union.
The key safety provisions  including mandatory coronavirus testing for students and staff as well as six-foot distancing between desks  go beyond what health authorities require. The distancing policy has resulted in a half-time on-campus classroom schedule. The timing of reopening  about two months after elementary campuses were eligible to reopen  was set to allow teachers and other district staff to achieve maximum vaccine immunity.
Other “important layers of prevention” include testing, ventilation, handwashing and contract tracing.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

The heavy emphasis on “layered prevention” in the guidance is the strongest acknowledgment yet from the CDC that schools need to prioritize a return to in-person learning.

In May, the CDC approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15 — opening up the livesaving shots to millions of young Americans.

No vaccines have yet been approved for kids under the age of 12.

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