SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday provided new methods for schools to follow for their reopening plans.
The U.S. Department of Education joined the agency for the 11 a.m. press conference and said in-person learning can be done safely — particularly for the younger students.
They reminded schools of what we already know: To support frequent hand washing, testing, contact tracing and disinfecting school property.
However, they also provided a color-coded chart that school districts can use to guide when they should utilize various types of learning (hybrid, virtual only, etc.).
The CDC’s model suggests that schools can open for fully in-person learning once they are in the “Low Transmission/Blue” tier.
The Blue tier requires the following criteria:
- Only 0-9 community-wide total new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days
- Percent positivity rate of nucleic acid amplification tests during the past 7 days is <5.0%
School districts have been left to create their own opening plans during the pandemic, with the CDC mainly providing ‘considerations’ and research on COVID-19 impact on children.
“Schools should determine, in collaboration with state and local health officials to the extent possible, whether and how to implement each of these considerations while adjusting to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local community,” the website said as of the morning of Feb. 12, 2021.
The lack of a nationwide effort to reopen schools has individual counties throughout the country navigating the digital divide, parent and teacher concerns, as well as tension between school boards and their local elected officials.
On Thursday, the White House press secretary confirmed they are leaving the reopening school guidance to the CDC — after President Joe Biden in December pledged to reopen “the majority of our schools” in his first 100 days in office.
INTERACTIVE MAP: Check California school reopening status below
“I can assure any parent listening that his objective, his commitment, is to ensuring schools are open five days a week,” press secretary Jen Psaki said during her briefing Thursday.
At this time, the CDC does offer ‘indicators’ that local school leaders could use to guide their planning.
- The number of new cases per 100,000 persons within the last 14 days
- The percentage of RT-PCR tests that are positive during the last 14 days
- The school’s ability to adhere to the following key mitigation strategies
- Consistent and correct use of masks
- Social distancing to the extent possible
- Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
- Cleaning and disinfection
- Contact tracing in collaboration with local health department
Last week, the agency’s director said schools can safely reopen even if teachers are not vaccinated for the coronavirus.
Right now, California is allowing teachers to book their COVID-19 vaccine appointments, but supplies are low and priority is still going to healthcare workers and long-term care residents.
In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed said teachers will be allowed to get vaccines towards the end of February.
“We’re ready to keep ramping up as soon as we start receiving more vaccines,” Breed said.
She and city attorney Dennis Herrera are pressuring the San Francisco Unified School District to reopen public schools as soon as possible.
Herrera filed a lawsuit which claims that the school district is violating student’s rights, discriminating against low–income students, violating state law and failing administerial duties by not reopening the San Francisco public schools promptly.