The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has unveiled new guidance on safely reopening schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic and emerging coronavirus variants.
“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. Many K-12 schools that have implemented mitigation strategies have been able to safely open for in-person instruction and remain open,” the CDC guidance said on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.
The guidance advises schools to phase in their reopening plans in accordance with the severity of the outbreak in their areas.
It recommends that schools adopt “essential elements” in resuming in-person learning, including wearing masks, physical distancing and monitoring the level of spread in the surrounding community.
As “additional layers” of Covid-19 prevention, the CDC calls on schools to implement a testing program to identify and isolate infectious people and vaccinate teachers and staff “as soon as supply allows.”
“Data suggest that it is possible for communities to bring down cases of Covid-19 while keeping schools open to in-person instruction,” the guidance says.
“Furthermore, models of consistent implementation of mitigation measures in schools have shown success in limiting outbreaks and infections in schools.”
The CDC says the first step in considering whether to reopen schools should be to assess the level of spread in the community. The agency recommends that schools monitor the total number of new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days in the community as well as the positivity rate.