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New CDC Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Schools

Posted on July 9, 2021

On July 9th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidance related to the prevention of COVID-19 in schools. The updated Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Kindergarten (K)-12 Schools outlines strategies for K-12 schools to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and maintain safe operations.
In its updated guidance, the CDC emphasizes the benefits of in-person learning for students and notes that schools should prioritize the safe return to in-person learning in the fall. The new CDC guidance:
  • Outlines a number of ways schools can promote vaccines among teachers, staff, families and eligible students.
  • Recommends masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated and notes that consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Provides that masks need not be worn outdoors; however, people who are not vaccinated should wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk and notes that when it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of 3 feet, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies.
The CDC emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies to protect people who are not fully vaccinated and the need for localities to monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing and occurrence of outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies. Screening testing, improving ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine and cleaning and disinfection are noted as important prevention strategies for in-person learning in schools.
The CDC advises that its guidance is meant to supplement—not replace—any federal, state, local, territorial or tribal health and safety laws, rules and regulations with which schools must comply and that the adoption and implementation of its guidance should be done in collaboration with regulatory agencies and state, local, territorial and tribal public health departments, and in compliance with state and local policies and practices.
This communication is intended as general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If legal advice is required, please contact any of our attorneys at (614) 222-8686, or via email.