FRIDAY, July 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) – When schools open this fall, vaccinated teachers and students will be able to enter without a mask, according to a new guideline released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The relaxed recommendation comes as a nationwide vaccination campaign in which children as young as 12 can receive COVID-19 vaccines is unfolding, accompanied by a general decline in hospitalizations and deaths from coronaviruses.
“We’re at a new stage in the pandemic that we’re all excited about,” so it’s time to update the guidelines, said Erin Sauber-Schatz, who heads the CDC task force that prepares such recommendations. Associated press.
Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, called the CDC’s new guidelines “an important roadmap to reducing the risk of COVID-19 in schools.”
And American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten hailed the advice as “based on both science and common sense.”
“Our ultimate goal remains: to bring students, teachers and staff back to school buildings full time, and make sure they are safe while doing so,” Weingarten said in a statement, adding that dozens union affiliates already have vaccines. clinics, the PA reported.
The CDC does not advise schools to require vaccines for teachers and children eligible for the vaccine. In addition, the agency does not offer advice on how teachers can find out which students are vaccinated or how parents will know which teachers are vaccinated, the PA mentionned.
This is likely to create tough school environments, said Elizabeth Stuart, a professor of public health at John Hopkins University who has children in elementary and middle schools.
“It would be a very strange dynamic, socially, to have children wearing masks and others not. And follow that? Teachers shouldn’t need to know which children should wear masks,” she said. declared to PA.
Another potential hurdle: Schools should continue to space children – and their desks – 3 feet apart in classrooms, according to new CDC guidelines. But the agency stressed that the spacing should not be a barrier to the return of children to school. And he said distancing is not required among fully vaccinated students or staff.
All of this can prove difficult to execute, which is why the CDC advises schools to make the most sensible decisions, Sauber-Schatz said.
The biggest problems will occur in colleges where some students are eligible for injections and others are not. If sorting out vaccinated and unvaccinated students proves too tedious, administrators might choose to simply keep a masking policy in place for everyone.
âThe guidelines are really written to allow flexibility at the local level,â Sauber-Schatz told the PA.
Widespread mask wear is expected to continue this fall in some of the nation’s largest school districts: In Detroit, everyone will be required to wear a mask unless everyone in the class has been vaccinated, the PA reported. But masks won’t be mandatory in Houston schools. Philadelphia planned to require masks, but on Friday a spokesperson said the school district is now reviewing its policy based on guidance from the CDC, the PA mentionned.
The CDC said long months of virtual learning have hurt many students, and such variations in infection and vaccination rates across the country make a one-size-fits-all approach impossible.
âWe know that in-person learning is really important for school, for kids, for their educational, social and emotional well-being, so we really want to bring kids back to the classroom,â Sauber-Schatz said. The New York Times.
Besides being difficult for students, virtual learning means that many working parents have stayed at home to care for their children, and the full reopening of schools is seen as a major step in the economic recovery. from the country.
“It’s a great moment,” said former CDC acting director Dr Richard Besser.
“It is also a recognition that there are real costs in keeping children at home, in preventing them from going to school, that school is so important in terms of socialization and development. children and that it also provides other supports, “including working parents, Besser told the Time.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more about reopening schools.
SOURCES: Associated press; The New York Times