The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called to reopen schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, in new guidelines released on Friday.
The guidelines were updated as many local governments have struggled to return students to in-person learning, almost a year after the coronavirus pandemic forced schools across the U.S. to shutter their doors. San Francisco is suing the city’s own Board of Education to reopen its public schools, while Chicago reached a deal with the city teachers’ union to reopen schools in March after weeks of negotiations.
The extended absence from school has caused both students and parents to struggle with remote learning and reduced social contact between children.
“It is critical for schools to open as safely and as soon as possible, and remain open, to achieve the benefits of in-person learning and key support services,” the CDC said. “All community members, students, families, teachers, and school staff should take actions to protect themselves and others where they live, work, learn, and play.”
The CDC said there was strong evidence that schools can be reopened in a way that mitigates spread of coronavirus, including by wearing masks and maintaining social-distancing when possible. However, the agency does not have the power to mandate reopening of schools.
While frequent coronavirus testing and vaccination of teachers was also recommended, the CDC indicated that schools can safely reopen without those measures in place.
In July of 2020, former CDC director Robert Redfield said schools should be able to reopen for in-person learning in the fall.
“Nothing would cause me greater sadness than to see any school district or school use our guidance as a reason not to reopen,” Redfield said at the time.
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