CDC releases guidelines for reopening schools
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its much-anticipated, updated guidance Friday to help school leaders decide how to safely bring students back into classrooms, or keep them there. Rather than a political push to reopen schools, the update is a measured, data-driven effort to expand on old recommendations and advise school leaders on how to “layer” the most effective safety precautions: masking, physical distancing, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, ventilation and building cleaning, and contact tracing.
For politicians, parents and school leaders looking for a clear green light to reopen schools, this is not it.
“CDC is not mandating that schools reopen,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday on a phone briefing with reporters.
Instead, the CDC goes to great lengths to explain that proper mitigation can help keep kids and staff safe at school, even in hard-hit communities, though it also warns that schools lulled into a false sense of security because of low community transmission rates could still spread the virus if they don’t enforce mask-wearing and socially distanced classrooms.
The updated guidance comes as President Biden tries to make good on his promise to see more schools reopen within his first 100 days in office. School reopening has become a potent political battle between parents and educators. In Washington, Republicans have used it to criticize the Biden administration for bowing to pressure from a powerful interest group: teachers unions.