On Thursday, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines that came down hard in favor of opening schools, stating that children don’t suffer much from coronavirus, and are less likely than adults to spread it.
However, the guidelines do recommend that local officials should consider closing schools, or keeping them closed, if there is substantial, the uncontrolled transmission of the coronavirus.
President Trump pressed again for schools to reopen. “We’re asking Congress to provide $105 billion to schools in the next stimulus bill,” the president announced at his coronavirus briefing at the White House.
“We cannot indefinitely stop 50 million children from going to school,” Trump said. “Reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring parents can go to work and provide for their families.”
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement that it is critically important for public health to open schools this fall.
“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.”
The guidelines, which are posted online, start with an unsigned statement on “the importance of reopening America’s schools this fall.”
“The best available evidence indicates that COVID-19 poses relatively low risks to school-aged children,” the statement reads.
“Children appear to be at lower risk for contracting COVID-19 compared to adults. To put this in perspective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of July 17, 2020, the United States reported that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for under 7 percent of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths,” the statement adds.
“Scientific studies suggest that COVID-19 transmission among children in schools may be low. International studies that have assessed how readily COVID-19 spreads in schools also reveal low rates of transmission when community transmission is low.”
“This is consistent with data from both virus and antibody testing, suggesting that children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 spread in schools or in the community,”
The statement also states that extending school closures harms children. “It can lead to severe learning loss, and the need for in-person instruction is particularly important for students with heightened behavioral needs,” the statement reads.
While many medical experts have said it’s not safe to open schools while coronavirus is spreading in a community, the guidelines take note of these arguments.
“If there is substantial, uncontrolled transmission, schools should work closely with local health officials to make decisions on whether to maintain school operations,” they read.
“The health, safety, and wellbeing of students, teachers, staff, and their families is the most important consideration in determining whether school closure is a necessary step,” the guidance adds.
The guidelines recommend against screening all students for coronavirus. “CDC does not currently recommend universal symptom screenings (screening all students grades K-12) be conducted by schools,” the guidelines read. “Parents or caregivers should be strongly encouraged to monitor their children for signs of infectious illness every day,” they add. “Students who are sick should not attend school in person.”