Top teachers union knocks 'watered down' CDC reopening guidelines
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A top teachers union knocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “watered down” reopening guidelines, calling it a “flimsy flowchart.”

National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen García said school officials should be “cautious and focused on safety” in reopening guidelines and observe how things go with other countries that are making classrooms accessible again after months of lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The White House has watered down the CDC guidelines to nothing more than a flimsy flowchart, showing Trump’s continued disregard for the safety and well-being of students and educators,” Eskelsen García said in a statement.

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“The reality of reopening school buildings and college campuses is that any missteps could cost lives, particularly among our most vulnerable students and in black, brown and poor communities,” Eskelsen García added. “Once again, this administration has politics trumping science.”

The CDC said in a statement that states and localities are experiencing different stages of the pandemic, so resources are being provided to assist leaders in making decisions for reopening.

"This new guidance offers optional safety measures that schools can choose from that make sense for them in the context of their operations and their state and local regulations and directives," the statement said.

It added that the CDC will continue to update resources as mitigation strategies are implemented.

The CDC has released a flowchart to assist schools in deciding whether to reopen. It recommends schools comply with state and local orders, have a plan for children susceptible to disease and a screening system. The next level of recommendations include promoting health practices, increasing cleaning, urging social distancing and training all employees on health and safety guidelines.

The list requests schools develop procedures to check signs and symptoms of students and employees daily, urge people to stay home if sick, have a plan if someone gets sick, have flexible leave policies and offer consistent communication with local authorities, families and employees.

The NEA, which represents more than 3 million educators, called on the federal government to send financial assistance to schools and colleges, saying they cannot reopen without more funding.

The group also called on the GOP-controlled Senate to pass the $3 trillion HEROES Act passed last week by the House, arguing it would provide the “necessary funding” for students and public schools.

“The American economy cannot recover if schools can’t reopen, and we cannot properly reopen schools if funding is slashed and students don’t have what they need to be safe, learn and succeed,” Eskelsen García said.

--This report was updated at 4:00 p.m.