The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance and recommendations today for schools getting ready to start full in-person instruction again during the pandemic.
With the new administration, there has been a strong push for schools to reopen and to get children physically back into the school setting.
Guidance Emphasizes Importance of Screening
According to a CNN article, an administrator told CNN that CDC’s ‘five key strategies to reopening schools, include hand washing, masking, social distancing, cleaning and ventilation, as well as contact tracing, isolations and quarantining.”
Since schools were able to reopen safely before vaccines were available and ready for the public distribution, the guidance will not recommend mandatory vaccines for school staff members, but vaccines will still be categorized as another mitigation strategy to implement. Additionally, the guidance emphasizes the importance of screening and testing people to identify any asymptomatic cases.
Medical experts are saying that with the right procedures and policies put in place, in-person instruction in plausible and safe, even without vaccinations.
Recent CDC studies show that although some schools have already been implementing full or hybrid learning modules, there is little evidence to show this has been contributing to community spread.
Still, there are concerns about getting back to in-person instruction, especially from school staff. Teachers and unions have been resisting plans to reopen, demanding vaccines and more supplies to keep not only their rooms and children safe, but also to protect themselves.
There are additional concerns of funding and equity regarding equal access to resources and supplies needed to maintain a safety standard across differently situated districts. A recent survey from the National Education Association showed that out of 3,305 of its surveyed members, 82% have not received a vaccine. President Biden’s recent COVID-19 proposed relief bill will include $170 billion for k-12 schools, colleges, and universities to go towards safety protocols and mitigation measures.
In August of last year, the CDC advised school administrations to weigh the costs and benefits of implementing in-person instruction during the pandemic based on the community’s spread. Additionally, if schools decided to implement in-person instruction, the CDC emphasized clean and sanitary environments, wearing masks, adhering to social distancing guidelines, and other mitigation efforts.
Bottom Line for Schools
Schools across the country have been utilizing different approaches and protocols when adopting in-person instruction. Schools should continue to stay on top of transmission rates within their communities. Testing and adhering to CDC, state, and local health guidance is key to mitigating the spread of COVID amid returning back to in-person instruction.
There is no doubt that returning to full-time, in-person instruction poses a risk to schools’ staff and their surrounding communities, but with funding for PPE and other supplies for safety, along with strict adherence to mitigation guidance and protocols, the process can become a lot safer. Additionally, schools should always enforce the practice of safety measures, such as masking and social distancing, to keep the school community and staff as safe as possible.
If you have a question, please contact your legal counsel or one of the Education attorneys at KingSpry.
School Law Bullets are a publication of KingSpry’s Education Law Practice Group. This article is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal advice.