The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday issued new guidelines for reopening schools in the US, recommending the widespread use of masks and distance keeping as key strategies to prevent the spread of covid-19.
CDC guidelines – which include school cleaning, personal hygiene and contact tracking – aim to provide a road map for school districts so that 55 million students in the US can return to their homes without developing coronavirus outbreaks. .
“We estimate that with the strategies we are proposing, if they are respected, there will be limited or no transmission (of covid-19) to schools,” said CDC director Rochelles Valensky, noting, however, that the agency does not mandate the reopening of schools.
At the same time, the CDC considered that the vaccination of teachers is not a precondition for the resumption of lifelong learning, although it recommended to the US states to give priority to teachers in the vaccination campaigns against covid-19.
Valensky commented that although children are infected with coronavirus, “less than 10% of cases in the United States have been reported in children and adolescents aged 5 to 17 years.”
“Students are not a major source of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus for adults in schools,” she added. “The data show that transmission (of coronavirus) is more common among school staff than from student-to-teacher, teacher-to-student or student-to-student transmission.”
Only 44% of school districts in the United States took life lessons in December and 31% relied on distance learning, according to the Center for Reinventing Public Education, which surveyed 477 of the nearly 13,000 school districts in the United States. Other school districts used a combination of the two models, with students taking live lessons a few days a week.
The reopening of schools has sparked controversy between teachers' unions, which are concerned about the safety of their members, and school districts in major US cities.
As the situation in different US states and cities differs from the coronavirus epidemic, the CDCs are proposing a flexible approach to school reopening.
“In areas where the positivity is below 5% and where less than nine cases of covid-19 per 100,000 have been reported in the last seven days, schools can reopen normally and relax social isolation measures if everyone wears a mask,” Valensky said. .
In areas with a higher prevalence of coronavirus, the CDC recommends that students stay more than 1.5 meters in the classroom and test students, teachers, and school staff each week.
Primary schools should offer lifelong learning, at least some days of the week, even in high-risk areas.
Recent research has shown that lifelong learning – especially in primary schools – is not associated with an increase in coronavirus outbreaks in the community.
US President Joe Biden has pledged to reopen most grade schools from kindergarten to high school in the first 100 days of his term.
Yesterday, Biden praised the CDC's recommendations and highlighted the problems caused by the prolonged closure of schools, including the mental health of children and the return of parents to work.
“We sacrificed so much last year. “But science tells us that if we support children, teachers and communities with the resources they need, children can return to school earlier safely in more parts of the country,” he said in a statement.