The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released guidelines for reopening schools, including “five key mitigation strategies” for returning to in-person school safely.
Those five key strategies are: the universal and correct wearing of masks; physical distancing; washing hands; cleaning facilities and improving ventilation; and doing contact tracing, isolation and quarantining.
The CDC says vaccination and testing “provide additional layers of COVID-19 prevention in schools,” but don’t describe them as key strategies.
"With the release of this operational strategy, CDC is not mandating that schools reopen. These recommendations simply provide schools a long-needed roadmap for how to do so safely under different levels of disease in the community," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in prepared remarks for the agency’s news briefing on Friday.
"We also know that some schools are already providing in-person instruction and we want them to be able to continue to do this, but we know that some are not following the mitigation strategies we know work," Walensky said. "For these schools, we are not mandating that they close; rather, we are providing these recommendations and highlighting the science behind them to help schools create an environment that is safe for students, teachers and staff."
Walensky added that while each strategy is important, CDC recommends "prioritizing the first two" -- wearing masks and physical distancing.
“These two strategies are incredibly important in areas that have high community spread of Covid-19, which right now is the vast majority of communities in the US," Walensky said.