As summer winds down, parents are facing down the start of the school year—and looking to authorities to help determine if it’s safe to send students back for in-person learning. On Friday, the Centers of Disease Control revised its guidelines to put an emphasis on the importance of face-to-face instruction. “We owe it to our nation’s children to take personal responsibility to do everything we can to lower the level of Covid-19, so that we can all get back to school safely,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Friday. Read on for a summary of his changes, and to keep yourself and others safe during this pandemic no matter where you live, don’t miss this essential list of the Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
“The new guidelines address how schools can work with public health officials if an infected person has been on campus,” reports KTLA. “Rather than shut everything down immediately for a long period of time, the guidelines said one option is an initial short-term class suspension and cancellation of events and after-school activities. That would give public health leaders the time they need to determine how widespread the infections are.”
“Teach and reinforce use of cloth face coverings or masks,” they recommend. “The use of cloth face coverings or masks is one of many important mitigation strategies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Cloth face coverings or masks are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms.”
The agency also offered beefed-up advice regarding cleaning and disinfection, shared objects and ventilation, as well as modified layouts and school lunches.
“The many benefits of in-person schooling should be weighed against the risks posed by Covid-19,” the new guidelines said. “The available evidence from countries that have reopened schools showed that Covid-19 ‘poses low risks to school-aged children—at least in areas with low community transmission,'” reports CNN. “It adds that in general, children are less likely to have severe symptoms than adults. The risk of teachers, school administrators and other staff will, however, ‘mirror that of other adults in the community’ if they get sick, the guidelines said.”
“Everyone’s goal is to prioritize the reopening of schools as safely and as quickly as possible given the many known and established benefits of in-person learning,” says the agency. “In order to enable this and assist schools with their day-to-day operations, it is important to adopt and diligently implement actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 inside the school and out in the community. Vigilance to these actions will moderate the risk of in-school transmission regardless of the underlying community burden – with risk being the lowest if community transmission is low and there is fidelity to implementing proven mitigation strategies.”
Meanwhile, “a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests child-care centers may reopen safely in areas where the virus is low,” reports the New York Times. “The report published Friday documents just 52 coronavirus infections in child-care centers in Rhode Island over a two-month period in which hundreds of centers were authorized to reopen. In a call with reporters on Friday, the C.D.C.’s. director, Dr. Robert Redfield, credited adherence to measures like mandatory masks for adults, daily screening of symptoms in both adults and children, and thorough cleaning and physical distancing.”
As for yourself, listen to Redfield’s guidance—pay attention to your community’s spread before sending your child back to school, and do everything you can to prevent COVID-19 spread. “We don’t have to close retail, you don’t have to lock down,” said Redfield. “We really just need to wear face coverings when we can’t social distance, wash your hands and be smart about crowds. Particularly obviously the overcrowding that occurs in bars and indoor restaurants, and we can get this outbreak under control.” And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 37 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.