C.D.C. Draws Up a Blueprint for Reopening Schools
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday urged that K-12 schools be reopened as soon as possible, and it called for a resolution to bring students back to classrooms and resolve a debate that divides communities across the country Introduced a step-by-step plan.
The guidelines highlight growing evidence that schools can open safely if they use measures designed to slow the spread of coronaviruses. The agency said that in communities with high transmission rates, elementary-school students can receive at least some in-person instruction safely.
The agency said middle and high school students can safely attend in-person classes when the virus is less prevalent, but may need to switch to hybrid or distance education in communities experiencing acute outbreaks is.
CDC Director Dr. “The CDC’s operational strategy is grounded in science and the best available evidence,” Rochelle Wallensky said in a call with reporters on Friday.
Guidelines come amid an intense debate. Even in some districts, parents are discouraged from closed schools, with some teachers and their unions refusing to return to classrooms they consider unsafe.
Public school enrollment has declined in many districts. Education and civil rights leaders are concerned about the loss to children who have not been in classrooms for almost a year.
The recommendations span a middle ground among those eager to resume in-person learning and are afraid that reopening the school will spread the virus.
In the advice that may disappoint some teachers, the document states that vaccination of teachers should be a priority, but is not necessary to reopen schools.
Nevertheless, the two national associations thanked the CDC for clear guidance.
“For the first time since the onset of this epidemic, we have a rigorous road map based on science that our members can use to fight for a safe reopening,” President of the American Federation of Teachers and Allies Randy Weingarten said. Of President Biden.
But Ms. Weyngton and Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, argued that schools could find it difficult to implement CDC’s mitigation strategies without additional federal funding.
The agency’s guidance reiterates the idea that schools should be the last to close and reopen in any community. But the CDC has no power to take steps to reduce high transmission rates to reopen communities – such as the closure of unprofessional businesses.
Dr. Valensky said that according to the agency’s new criteria, more than 90 percent of county schools in the US cannot return to full-time classes. However, most districts are offering at least some in-person learning, and about half of the country’s students are learning in classrooms.
But there are those who have disparities in access to in-person instructions, with urban districts more likely to close schools than suburban and rural people serving mostly poor, nonwed children.
Researchers are not worried about the academic consequences of being out of school for such a long time. Although the data is still very limited, many doctors and mental health experts report seeing an unusually high number of children and adolescents who are depressed, anxious, or experiencing other mental health issues.
Epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said the agency’s approach established the right balance between the risks and benefits of in-person instruction.
Dr. “We have incurred a significant amount of loss by not opening schools,” said Nzo. “This document is important in trying to mitigate the risks in relation to those losses, and seeks to illustrate the path forward.”
The CDC advised school administrators of four levels of viral transmission in the surrounding communities.
The agency said elementary schools can remain open regardless of the level of the virus in the surrounding community, pointing out that younger students are least likely to become infected or to spread the pathogen.
Only in communities with high transmission levels should primary schools switch to a hybrid model, some with remote instruction and some in-person instruction, the agency said. In any scenario, primary schools must be at least partially open. The agency said that middle schools and high schools should be completely closed and switched to virtual learning.
The guidelines also preferred in-person instruction on extra-curricular activities like sports and school events. In an outbreak, these activities should be stopped before classes are closed, officials said.
Some experts expressed concern about the strategy. Many schools in communities where viral transmission is high, without experiencing an outbreak of the virus, are completely open to individual instruction.
Absent from the agency’s guidance were detailed recommendations to improve ventilation in schools, an important safeguard.
In a short paragraph, the CDC suggested that schools open windows and doors to increase circulation, but said that they “should not be opened if doing so poses a safety risk or health risk.”
“The CDC pays lip service to ventilation in its report, and you have to search to find it,” said Joseph Allen, an expert on building safety at the Harvard TH School of Public Health in Boston. “It’s not as prominent as it should be.”
CDC recommended preventive measures for schools are those that have Previously supported. The universal effects of wearing masks and physical disturbances are most effective, but the agency also supported hand washing and hygiene, cleanliness and contact therapy.
The agency advised that schools refer all symptomatic students, teachers, staff and their close contacts for clinical testing, and that schools consider regular weekly testing of communities and staff, except in communities where Transmission is low. Some experts said the expense and logistics of comprehensive screening would be a heavy burden for school districts.
The CDC stated that in communities with high levels of broadcasting, schools should ensure that individuals maintain a physical distance of at least six feet. But in communities with low levels of transmission, the agency said that students and staff should only be physically overcome “to the greatest extent possible”.
“We are concerned that people will not be able to return to full-person learning if we mandate six feet of physical distance,” Dr. Valensky accepted.
Dr. of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Many communities have adopted hybrid approaches, or in some cases, simply not opened up, because they have not been able to detect that spacing issue,” Nuzo said. “The whole effort to get the kids back to school is not to break up on it.”
But Ms. Pringle of the National Education Association, the country’s largest teacher’s association, said there should be no restriction on physical disturbances or other mitigation strategies.
“We need detailed guidance from the CDC that does not leave room for political games,” she said. “It is an airborne disease. Masks must be in place, social distancing and proper ventilation should be one. “
As it did before, the CDC recommended using two measures to determine the risk of transmission in the community: the total number of new cases per 100,000 people, and the percentage of positive test results in the last seven days.
An infectious disease specialist from Boston University, Dr. Helen Jenkins said the percentage of positive tests may vary by how much a community is testing. And the highest levels of community defined by the agency are also conservative; Schools would be safer even though there were more cases in the community, she and other experts said.
Mr. Biden vows to open The majority of K-8 schools Inside First 100 days of his administration. But on Wednesday, White House press secretary, Jane Skakie, said the president had spoken to teach the person “at least one day a week”.
According to the agency’s new guidelines, many schools that now operate virtually must consider at least some in-person learning.
If the new recommendations take place last fall, for example, San Francisco could open all of its schools for fully individualized instruction in mid-September. Today, according to the guidelines, San Francisco can open elementary school in a hybrid mode, and the city is close to being able to open middle school and high school in hybrid mode.
Instead, the city’s schools have been closed since the epidemic began, and districts have agreed with their union on far more restrictive reopening standards. Authorities have not set a date to bring the younger children back to school, and say they do not expect the return of middle and high-school students this year.
The new guidance states that states should vaccinate teachers in the early stages of the rollout, but said that access to vaccines “should not be considered a prerequisite for reopening schools for in-person instruction.”
Carl Bergstrom, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Washington in Seattle, said that vaccination teachers are very effective at reducing cases between both teachers and students in a model of transmission in high schools. “It should be an absolute priority,” he said.
Still, he said, “I can definitely see why they didn’t choose to make it a condition, because it might not be something that could happen over time if the schools were open.”
Some teachers’ unions have also called for stricter protection regarding air quality inside school buildings, an issue not fully addressed by the CDC
For example, in Boston, air quality was a major point of contention in reopening negotiations between the school district and the teachers’ union. Their agreement Called for air purifiers in classrooms and a system for testing and reporting air quality data.
Ms Pringle, union president, said her members continued to be concerned about aging schools that did not have modern ventilation systems. Those buildings were likely to be low-income and non-communities hit hardest by the epidemic.
On Friday, Drs. Valensky said schools should be able to remain open through most local conditions according to the new guidelines, if transmission skytrates – perhaps because infectious new variants are starting to circulate in the country – “require us to restart it Might. “