The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new strategy CDC’s Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools Through Phased Mitigation for re-opening schools during the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. More detailed information from the relevant CDC webpage is also available here. The opening lines of the document underscore that schools should reopen “as safely and as soon as possible, and remain open, to achieve the benefits of in-person learning and key support services.”
The strategy highlights three essential components of safe school reopenings:
- Mitigation strategies to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 [severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2] in schools including especially the prioritization of universal and correct usage of masks, and the maximization of physical distancing.
- Indicators of community transmission to reflect level of community risk using two primary measures new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days and percentage of positive nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs).
- Phased mitigation and learning modes based on levels of community transmission in recognition of the fact that recommended learning modes (in-person/hybrid/virtual) depend on the level of community transmission and strict adherence to mitigation.
The document also emphasizes the importance of additional elements of COVID-19 prevention in schools including testing and vaccination for teachers and staff, and in communities.
K–12 schools should be the last settings to close after all other mitigation measures in the community have been employed, and the first to reopen when they can do so safely. Schools should be prioritized for reopening and remaining open for in-person instruction over nonessential businesses and activities.”
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Author: Emily Christian