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A senior official at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells CNN that the American public should expect to see two sets of supplemental recommendations to existing guidance related to schools safely reopening as early as Friday.
The first set of supplemental guidance is from the CDC and is still going through the interagency review process, but CDC officials were told that Friday was the target release date, the senior official said.
The second set of supplemental guidance is expected to come from the newly created White House work group, the official said.
The newly minted school reopening work group, requested by White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, includes officials from the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Domestic Policy Council, as well as an official from the US Department of Education. The guidance documents expected from this group will be geared towards parents, the senior CDC official said.
About the guidance: Asked what the public should expect to be included in the CDC’s guidance, the official said that the new version will reiterate the most up-to-date science on the novel coronavirus.
“That’s what we will always do. In everything that the CDC does, we go for balance based on science. We are not offering opinions,” the official said.
Stressing the plan to “safely reopen,” the official said safety is the CDC’s top priority. Acknowledging that some areas of the US still have high community transmission of the virus, the official said “it’s not feasible to open” in those areas.
“We have said from the beginning that if you have a case in a school, to shut down that part of the school and do contact tracing and make sure no additional cases are present. If kids are coming in infected, or coming from areas with uncontrolled community transmission, it won’t make sense to open.”
The official added that areas that don’t have a lot of cases and can institute social distancing and have school staff wear masks can probably reopen safely.
“Our science is more well-informed about the risk to kids and adults in schools, the efficacy of masks and social distancing. We know more as the science gets better,” the official said.