CDC releases revised guidance for reopening schools

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday evening released guidance for the reopening of school buildings for the 2020-21 school year following the COVID-19 pandemic that closed schools in MarchSome aspects of the guidance differ from recommendations released by the CDC last May and come as many Kansas school districts are finalizing their reopening plans.  

The Preparing K-12 School Administrators for a Safe Return to School in Fall 2020” is posted on KASB’s “Roadmap to Reopening” Resources page on our website. 

One change from the CDC’s May recommendations is new guidance on screening students for COVID-19 symptoms  

Based on the best available evidence at this time, CDC does not currently recommend universal symptom screenings (screening all students grades K-12) be conducted by schools. Parents or caregivers should be strongly encouraged to monitor their children for signs of infectious illness every day. Students who are sick should not attend school in-person,” the guidance says. 

In May, the CDC recommended schools screen all students for symptoms. The organization says the updated guidance is based on the latest data about how children contract the virus. 

“Limited data about COVID-19 in children suggest that children are less likely to get COVID-19 than adults, and if they do contract COVID-19, they generally have less serious illness than adults,” the guidance saysWhile uncommon, deaths and rare illness such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) may still occur. 

The unique and critical role that schools play makes them a priority for opening and remaining open, enabling students to receive both academic instruction and support as well as critical services. In order to prioritize opening schools safely and helping them to remain open, communities should consider adopting actions to mitigate community transmission. 

The CDC says school administrators should take into account COVID-19 transmission rates in their immediate communities and in the communities in which students, teachers and staff live when developing their reopening plans. It recommends “cohorting” (keeping students in class “pods,” staggering student returns to the building, and similar measures); observing multiple mitigation strategies; observing best practices to reinforce personal behaviors to prevent the spread of the virus, and to work with state and local health authorities. 

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