CDC guidance on getting students back into the classroom

25 Juillet, 2020, 05:12 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • US COVID-19 cases top 4mn as Trump pushes to reopen schools

Earlier on Thursday, US President Donald Trump said states that are now coronavirus hot spots may need to delay reopening schools by a few weeks, but otherwise pushed for students to be able to return to classrooms en masse in the coming months.

The new guidelines said children are less likely to be impacted by severe symptoms of COVID-19 than adults. The results were reported in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Friday. The latest information from the agency links to previous May guidance that recommends social distancing and staggered arrival and dismissal times.

The top US public health agency issued a full-throated call to reopen schools in a package of new resources posted on its website Thursday night that opened with a statement listing numerous benefits for children of being in school, while downplaying the potential health risks.

Denmark, the first European country to reopen schools, staggered students' reentry in waves with limited class sizes and using other social distancing measures.

CDC authors covered a wide range of benefits and risks involved in reopening schools, drawing largely on worldwide experience. "Every district should be actively making preparations to reopen", he said at a White House briefing on Thursday.

The new materials are meant to supplement guidance the CDC previously issued on when and how to reopen schools, with recommendations such as keeping desks 6 feet apart and keeping children in one classroom all day instead of allowing them to move around.

"This is especially important if a child has underlying health conditions or lives with a parent or grandparent who is at higher risk", Trump said. "CDC resources will help parents, teachers and administrators make practical safety-focused decisions as this school year begins". "This isn't about politics". The guidelines do, however, lay out CDC's framework for understanding a variety of nuances involved in deciding how to reopen schools. The CDC advises that unless there is substantial, uncontrolled community transmission in an area, schools should try to reopen.

But Trump didn't entirely back off on his previous threat to withhold federal funding from schools that don't reopen.

"If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious or home school of their choice", Trump said.

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If there is minimal to moderate spread, schools should also work to ensure that student and staff groupings "are as static as possible" and that mixing groups of students and staff is limited to lower the risk of tramsission.

Returning children to school also is generally seen as critical to reinvigorating the economy.

According to the COVKID Project, as of Thursday, 77 children have died from COVID-19 since January 1, and 805 have been admitted to pediatric intensive care units.

Children are not spared from severe illness, said panelist Tina Tan, MD, a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

The agency noted that as of July 17, children and adolescents account for under 7% of COVID-19 cases in the US - and less than 0.1% of virus-related deaths. Some 3% of total COVID hospitalizations are in children, she added.

The guidelines said children aren't the biggest driving force of transmitting the virus in families. But by age 10, she said, that protection may have dissipated. The CDC reminds readers that fewer reports of child abuse during the pandemic have correlated with an epidemic of child abuse victims in ERs. In California, now home to the most US Covid cases, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered that public schools for the majority of its population stay remote until the virus is under control. "It's public health versus public health", Redfield said, according to The Hill. "It tells you about that person at that moment in time", which may be a week or more earlier.

According to the CDC, prolonged school closures could worsen achievement gaps across income levels and racial and ethnic groups.

Tan said school reopenings in current hotspots such as Florida and California are a bad idea.

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