Story at a glance
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released a set of new guidelines for reopening the country to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
- The new guidelines have been trimmed down from a previous version reported by the Associated Press.
- Instructions are tailored for child care centers and K-12 schools as well as higher education.
After the Associated Press (AP) reported the White House had shelved a more detailed set of guidances from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), parts of it were quickly approved and are now available on the CDC website.
The documents contain instructions for reopening a range of public facilities and services, from workplaces and schools to parks and religious gathering places. Each set of guidelines depend on the level of community spread, or how many people are infected with the virus within the area, especially without knowing the source of their infection. The website also includes specific information and checklists for instructors, educators and parents to prepare for school and child care centers to reopen.
In areas with no community spread, educators should teach healthy hygiene, step up cleaning and disinfection, track absences and watch larger gatherings or events, the CDC recommends. For districts with minimal to moderate community spread, schools are asked to implement social distancing strategies in classrooms and hallways, accommodate high-risk children and families and coordinate with local officials.
Even in cases of substantial community spread, schools could still remain open, with the CDC guidelines suggesting social distancing strategies such as extended school dismissals and accommodations for high-risk children and families.
All schools, however, should consistently monitor changes in community spread and watch for coronavirus cases among students and staff. If someone confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in the building, the CDC recommends vacating the building for two to five days to clean and disinfect the facilities and also work with local health officials on contact tracing.
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The guidance is similar for higher education facilities, including colleges and universities. In cases of minimal to moderate community spread, the CDC recommends ensuring the continuity of safe housing and considering extended in-person class suspension only if community spread is substantial. In addition, guidelines emphasize establishing plans of action, regular communication and procedures for those who are sick that include a prepared health clinic.
Colleges and universities are also asked to consider postponing or cancelling international travel programs, including study abroad, and asking current participants to return to their home country.
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