On Feb. 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that teachers and students should return to the classroom and can do so safelyeven in areas with high rates of viral transmissionif certain mitigation steps are taken, ABC News reported.
The non-binding plan relies on four color-coded "zones" based on the prevalence of community spreadblue, yellow, orange and redthat each have different mitigation steps.
For blue and yellow zones, the lowest levels of transmission, schools can return full time but are encouraged to maintain six feet of distance to the "greatest extent possible." Masks should be worn everywhere, even in areas where transmission is low. In a red or orange zone where viral transmission is highest, schools should only open on a hybrid basis or with reduced attendance, and strictly enforce maintaining six feet of distance among students and staff. It's recommended that sports be canceled in red zones.
The plan also recommends expanding testing surveillance, prioritizing teachers for vaccinations and improving ventilation, if possible. However, it doesn't suggest those components as a prerequisite for students returning to classrooms.
The Chicago Tribune reported that in-person classes have resumed for some students in the city, after Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) reached a deal. In its push for additional school safety measures, vaccines and remote-work accommodations for CPS staff, the CTU argued that educators should get the same right as parents to choose whether to return to school during the coronavirus pandemic.
More information about the CDC guidelines is at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/index.html.