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July 9, 2021

NEWS: CDC ISSUES GUIDANCE FOR THE 2021-22 SCHOOL YEAR

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its updated Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Kindergarten (K)-12 Schools. This updated version of COVID-19 guidance for school administrators outlines strategies for K-12 schools to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and maintain safe operations. It emphasizes that students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority. 
 
Because many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time, the guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies. The guidance is intended to help administrators and local health officials select appropriate, layered prevention strategies and understand how to safely transition learning environments out of COVID-19 pandemic precautions as community transmission of COVID-19 reaches low levels or stops. This guidance is based on current scientific evidence and lessons learned from schools implementing COVID-19 prevention strategies.
 
This CDC guidance is meant to supplement, not replace, any federal, state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which schools must comply. The adoption and implementation of this guidance should be done in collaboration with regulatory agencies and state, local, territorial, and tribal public health departments, and in compliance with state and local policies and practices.
 

Here are the key takeaways in the new guidance:

  • Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic.  Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.
  • Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.
  • Screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
  • Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care.
  • Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together consistently) to protect people who are not fully vaccinated, including students, teachers, staff, and other members of their households.
  • COVID-19 prevention strategies remain critical to protect people, including students, teachers, and staff, who are not fully vaccinated, especially in areas of moderate-to-high community transmission levels.
  • Localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies (e.g., physical distancing, screening testing).
For more detailed information, click here to access the CDC’s guidance website.
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