CDC releases updated guidelines in favor of reopening schools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) late Thursday released new guidelines with a heavy focus on reopening schools in the fall, saying children are less likely to experience severe symptoms or spread the virus in schools.

Under the new guidelines, the CDC recommends that schools follow a certain level of precautions based on the amount of community transmission in their area. The CDC advises that unless there is substantial, uncontrolled community transmission in an area, schools should reopen to some extent.

“It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement announcing the guidelines. “School closures have disrupted normal ways of life for children and parents, and they have had negative health consequences on our youth. CDC is prepared to work with K-12 schools to safely reopen while protecting the most vulnerable.”

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Redfield has previously said that he would “absolutely” send his grandchildren back to school.

The CDC’s recommendations include socially distancing school children through cohorting or pods as well as a number of other measures to limit possible transmission of the coronavirus. 

“Schools should be prepared for COVID-19 cases and exposure to occur in their facilities,” the guidelines read, adding that schools should be prepared to coordinate with their local health departments.

According to the CDC, there are few reports of children being the driving force of transmission within families. It said that as of July 17, children and adolescents account for under 7 percent of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths.

"The best available evidence indicates that COVID-19 poses relatively low risks to school-aged children," the guidelines read.

The guidelines recommend against screening all students for coronavirus symptoms because children experiencing COVID-19 symptoms may be sick with something else and should not be in school if they are experiencing symptoms at all.

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"Parents or caregivers should be strongly encouraged to monitor their children for signs of infectious illness every day," the guidelines read. "Students who are sick should not attend school in-person."

The guidance comes as top Trump administration officials have signaled they see the resumption of in-person classes as a top priority. President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE previously threatened to defund schools that did not reopen for fall classes.

"Reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring that parents can go to work and provide for their families," Trump said during a press conference Thursday. "It's a tremendous problem. It's a tremendous problem. Schools have to open safely."

Lawmakers are currently mulling a stimulus bill that could potentially include funds for schools to implement social distancing measures.