The updated guidelines include checklists for parents and caregivers to help them determine whether their children should resume in-person learning at schools.
“It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said in the guidelines. “The CDC resources released today will help parents, teachers and administrators make practical, safety-focused decisions as this school year begins.”
“School closures have disrupted normal ways of life for children and parents, and they have had negative health consequences on our youth,” Redfield added. “CDC is prepared to work with K-12 schools to safely reopen while protecting the most vulnerable.”
Based on the “best available evidence,” the coronavirus poses relatively low risks to school-aged children, the guidelines state, adding that “children appear to be at lower risk for contracting COVID-19 compared to adults.”
As of July 17, the agency went on, children and adolescents account for less than 7 percent of cases and less than 0.1 percent of deaths in the nation.
The statement also noted there are very few reports of children being the “primary drivers” of the spread of the virus in schools or in the community.
“No studies are conclusive, but the available evidence provides reason to believe that in-person schooling is in the best interest of students, particularly in the context of appropriate mitigation measures similar to those implemented at essential workplaces,” the statement went on.
In a separate document, the CDC stressed the importance of in-person learning as well as the adverse effects extended school closures will have on children.
“It can lead to severe learning loss, and the need for in-person instruction is particularly important for students with heightened behavioral needs,” the document declared, also noting that millions of impoverished, food-insecure children even rely on school to provide them with breakfast and lunch each day.
The guidance urged school leaders to work with local officials to make individualized decisions about reopening in consideration of the virus’s prevalence in their area. In areas with significant, uncontrolled spread of the virus, school closure is an “important consideration.”
“The best available evidence from countries that have opened schools indicates that COVID-19 poses low risk to school-aged children,” the CDC concluded. “Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets—our children—while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff and all their families.”
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