The CDC has released new COVID-19 guidelines, including updating its guidance for schools ahead of the new year. A safe and welcoming learning environment is crucial for everyone’s safety.
This link is a summary and some basics More information is forthcoming.
- Equity Focus: Schools play a critical role in promoting equity in learning and health, particularly for groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Equity issues need to be considered in all decision-making and decisions and there needs to be equitable access to vaccination, testing, masks and respirators, treatment and prevention medications, community outreach related to layered prevention strategies and learning options should not disproportionately affect any group of people.
- Established infectious disease prevention strategies as part of normal operations. People who have symptoms of respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, such as cough, fever, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea, should stay home. Testing is recommended for people with symptoms of COVID 19as soon as possible after symptoms begin. Schools and ECE programs should continue to teach each and reinforce proper handwashing to lower the risk of spreading viruses,
- Masking policy: Masks recommended in Medium COVID-19 Community Level risk areas for only immunocompromised or high-risk individuals or those with high-risk close contacts. At a High COVID-19 Community Level, universal indoor masking in schools and ECE programs is recommended, as it is in the community at-large. CDC also recommends masking at all times in healthcare settings, including school nurses’ offices, regardless of the current COVID-19 Community Level.
What has changed/been relaxed:
- No more quarantines: People who are exposed to the virus no longer need to quarantine at home, regardless of their vaccination status, although they should wear a mask for 10 days and get tested for the virus on day 5.
- No more serial screening, testing, or test to stay: The recommendation is now to conduct screening testing on high-risk activities during high Covid community level or in response to outbreak. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated students should be included in testing cohort.
- No more distancing or cohorting: While there is no more distancing required, schools with students at risk for getting very sick with COVID-19 must make reasonable modifications when necessary to ensure that all students have access to in-person learning. Masking may be required in settings such as classrooms or during activities to protect students with immunocompromising conditions or other conditions that increase their risk for getting very sick; those students should not be placed into separate classrooms or otherwise segregated from other students.
What has been reinforced:
- More detailed information on when to wear a mask, managing cases and exposures, and responding to outbreaks.
- Strong emphasis on resources available for improving, repairing and upgrading ventilation and HVAC systems, including air filters, including funding provided through the U.S. Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) Programs and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Programs and the Department of Health and Humans Services’ Head Start and Child Care American Rescue Plan