As the debate whether or not to resume in-person classes this fall continues on, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have weighed in releasing new guidelines that are in favor of reopening education and child care centers.
“It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield.
“I know this has been a difficult time for our Nation’s families. 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,” he added.
In the guidelines, released on Thursday and titled "The Importance of Reopening America's Schools this Fall," the CDC said that COVID poses a low risk to school-aged children, adding that children are also less likely than adults to spread the virus amongst each other and onto family members.
Additionally, the agency said children suffer greatly from being out of school.
"It can lead to severe learning loss, and the need for in-person instruction is particularly important for students with heightened behavioral needs," the guideline read.
However, the CDC recommended that local officials should consider closing schools, or even keeping them closed, if there is a large outbreak of the virus.
"If there is substantial, uncontrolled transmission, schools should work closely with local health officials to make decisions on whether to maintain school operations," it read.
Other suggestions for administrators stressed the importance of implementing mitigation strategies such as social distancing, wearing proper face coverings, and hand hygiene.
Cleaning and disinfecting frequently is also encouraged, along with limiting or canceling extracurricular activities if social distancing is not feasible.
The guidelines suggest school administrators should keep children in cohorts to reduce the risk of transmission.
It stresses that parents should monitor children for symptoms and does not recommend screening all students for COVID.
The CDC’s guidelines come on the heels of demands made by President Trump that the agency alter its recommendations for school openings.
"We cannot indefinitely stop 50 million children from going to school," Trump said, per CNN. "Reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring parents can go to work and provide for their families."
The publication notes he asked Congress to “provide $105 billion to schools” in the next stimulus bill.
Many teachers have made it very clear that they do not support returning to school amid the ongoing pandemic.
Heather Mace of Tucson, a teacher in Arizona, said that most educators that she has talked with said they dislike virtual schooling, but are concerned for the health of teachers and students. “If I am asked to go back Aug. 17 I will consider FMLA [Family Medical Leave Act] until I feel it’s safer for my children to go back,” she said. “I believe the reason we are pushing to open schools so early is we will lose federal funding.”
Last month, Harvard University announced it would conduct classes remotely despite backlash from Trump. Other Ivy League universities revealed plans for a “hybrid model” of online and classroom instruction, with many students returning to campus.