Also on Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidelines for reopening schools. The CDC published a statement titled, “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall.”
CDC officials said children don’t suffer much from coronavirus, are less likely than adults to spread it and suffer from being out of school. But the new guidelines do recommend that local officials should consider closing schools, or keeping them closed, if there is substantial, uncontrolled transmission of the virus.
As families prepare for the start of a new school year, Gov. Jared Polis says Colorado is developing new protocols to respond to potential COVID-19 outbreaks among students. If a school reports an outbreak to the state, Polis said there will be increased testing.
“I hope there are no outbreaks and therefore there’s no testing, but that’s not realistic,” said Polis during a news conference on Thursday. “Just as there’s outbreaks in restaurants, just as there’s outbreaks in factories, there will be site-based outbreaks in schools.”
Polis said he hopes one case does not close an entire school. He added that all K-12 schools will receive enough N95 masks to provide each teacher with one mask per week.
On Thursday, Polis reiterated the “Four Pillars for Success” that he says need to be accomplished in order to contain the virus:
- Every Coloradan stays safer at home whenever possible.
- Older Coloradans and those at higher risk of suffering from complications of COVID-19 are staying at home.
- Coloradans must wear a mask: This is required now statewide in all public, indoor spaces.
- Increased testing and tracing in order to monitor positivity rates and assess the state’s capability to treat COVID-19 patients.
The CDC has been promising new guidelines for more than a week, after demands from President Donald Trump that the agency alter its recommendations for opening schools.
“It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement announcing the updates. “School closures have disrupted normal ways of life for children and parents, and they have had negative health consequences on our youth. CDC is prepared to work with K-12 schools to safely reopen while protecting the most vulnerable.”
The guidelines note that there are few reports of children being the driving force of transmission within families. The statement adds that children often get food, mental health care, speech language therapy and other services at school.
Other guidance takes into account the risk of transmission in schools and from schools. Many medical experts have said it’s not safe to open schools while coronavirus is spreading in a community. The guidelines take note of these arguments.
“If there is substantial, uncontrolled transmission, schools should work closely with local health officials to make decisions on whether to maintain school operations,” they read. “The health, safety, and wellbeing of students, teachers, staff and their families is the most important consideration in determining whether school closure is a necessary step,” the guidance adds.
The guidelines suggest that school administrators consider keeping children in cohorts or pods to reduce the risk of spread. They also encourage the use of social distancing, hand hygiene, face masks and other measures to control spread – and incorporating these measures into school curricula.
The guidelines recommend against screening all students for coronavirus.
“CDC does not currently recommend universal symptom screenings (screening all students grades K-12) be conducted by schools,” the guidelines read. “Parents or caregivers should be strongly encouraged to monitor their children for signs of infectious illness every day,” they add. “Students who are sick should not attend school in person.”
President Trump pressed again Thursday for schools to reopen.
“We’re asking Congress to provide $105 billion to schools” in the next stimulus bill, Trump announced at his coronavirus briefing at the White House.
“We cannot indefinitely stop 50 million children from going to school,” Trump said. “Reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring parents can go to work and provide for their families.”