CDC: Schools can reopen amid pandemic with strict safety protocols in place

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New guidance announced Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials says schools should reopen as soon as possible, with proper social distancing and mask wearing protocols in place.

CDC scientists conducted a study, which was published online in the journal JAMA, showing coronavirus rarely spreads within school buildings, where strict public health recommendations are followed.

“When they did it right with masks and social distancing, there wasn’t spread in the school more than in the community,” explains CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus.

Both Dr. Agus and CDC scientists say that in order to open schools, however, protocols must be in place – including strict testing of students, faculty and staff.

“What was cautioned is when they did indoor sports, were gathering indoors or didn't wear masks, there was significant spread,” Dr. Agus said. “So, if you do it right, we can get kids back to school in the short term – which is very optimistic.”

CDC scientists say reopening schools also requires states to control the virus’ spread within communities. They recommend that communities maintain other rules designed to reduce transmission of COVID-19, including restrictions on indoor activities.

“Decisions made today can help ensure safe operation of schools and provide critical services to children and adolescents,” scientists wrote in a summary of their study, adding, “Some of these decisions may be difficult.”

The CDC officials stressed that keeping schools closed may have a negative effect on students’ academic progress and mental health while hindering their access to essential services.

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