This is what I want to hear when updated CDC guidance is released for schools.
I hope CDC and White House officials will emphasize the value of normalcy.
As CNN first reported, new CDC guidance is on the way for K-12 schools. It should end close contact quarantines, which are still being used in some districts, and generally provide more normalcy for children in districts where the agency’s guidance is applied with fidelity.
However, despite the fact the new CDC guidance will remain significantly more strict than Northern European public health guidance — masks and rapid tests will probably still be deployed for use with healthy children and school staff — some in the public health community are nonetheless dissatisfied. These “anonymous local health department and other government employees” are encouraging their followers to contact White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain to demand more school measures.
With advocacy coming at CDC and the White House from all sides, I want to make sure that the new guidance protects child rights and does not lead to another year of impoverished schooling. Framing will be critical, because hyperlocal school governance means districts will ultimately take a cafeteria approach to public health measures.
This is what I would like to hear from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and others involved in its release:
- Schools must remain open at all grade levels, because virtual instruction is not a replacement for the classroom and children learn and develop best at school.
- Public health measures in schools should not be more strict than those in society at large, because the vast majority of children — vaccinated or not — face less risk of severe disease and death than adults.
- One-way masking works to protect vulnerable students and teachers. General mask mandates in schools are no longer necessary.
- Schools should pay attention to ventilation in order to reduce virus transmission, because it requires no compliance from students, doesn’t interfere with learning or socialization, and can also improve the learning environment…