CDC releases school reopening guidelines, 5 key COVID-19 mitigation strategies

The CDC updated its guidelines Feb. 12 for safe K-12 school reopenings, explaining that proper mitigation can help keep everyone safe, but also urging areas with low community transmission rates to still enforce mask-wearing and socially distanced classrooms.

"It is critical for schools to open as safely and as soon as possible, and remain open," the CDC writes. However, the agency says this is only possible if organizations adopt and consistently implement actions to slow the virus's spread both in schools and in the community.  

Five things to know:

1. The three essential elements of safe K-12 school in-person instruction are consistent implementation of layered mitigation strategies, indicators of community transmission, and phased mitigation and learning modes.

2. Essential elements of school reopening plans should take into account the communities and groups that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.  

3. Additional COVID-19 prevention efforts include diagnostic testing and vaccination for teachers and school staff as soon as supply allows. Local officials should consider giving high priority to teachers in early phases of vaccine distribution.

4. The five key mitigation strategies essential to safe delivery of in-person school and mitigating COVID-19 spread are universal and correct use of masks; physical distancing, hand-washing and respiratory etiquette; cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities; and contact tracing combined with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with state and local health departments. Of the five, mask-wearing and physical distancing should be prioritized.

5. Guidance and recommendations will be updated to reflect new evidence.  


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