Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released an operational strategy for reopening schools. Their operational strategy presents recommendations based on the best-available evidence at the time of release (which was February 12, 2021).
The operational strategy emphasizes mask wearing, social distancing, and other actions. The CDC adds that vaccination of teachers is important, but does not consider it to be a prerequisite for reopening. Parents need to know that the CDC cannot force schools to reopen. They are not calling for a mandate that all U.S. schools to reopen.
The CDC’s Essential Elements of safe K-12 school operations for in-person learning include:
- Consistent implementation of layered mitigation strategies to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in schools.
- Indicators of community transmission to reflect levels of community risk
- Phased mitigation and learning modes based on levels of community transmission
The CDC also recommends additional layers of COVID-19 prevention in schools. This includes testing to identify individuals with a SARS-CoV-2 infection to limit transmission and outbreaks. It also includes vaccinations for teachers, staff, and in communities as soon as vaccine supply allows.
Consistent with health equity considerations, schools and school districts should conduct active and specific outreach to underserved families – including parents/guardians of students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, students with disabilities, English learners, students experiencing homelessness, and students in foster care.
In addition, the CDC recommends universal and correct use of masks for all students, teachers, and staff. If visitors are permitted in school, they should be required to wear masks at all times and should maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others. This is something parents should be aware of when picking up or dropping off their child, or while in a parent-teacher meeting.
Not sure whether you want to send your child to in-person learning? The CDC has information to help parents make a decision. It is designed to help parents asses their child’s and family’s risk of COVID-19. Parents can consider factors that will help them make a choice of instructional format (if offered).
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