New CDC guidelines favor opening schools outside of virus hot spots

Coronavirus

ATLANTA (WIVB) — In a new update encouraging schools to reopen, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention say children are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms of COVID-19.

But the new guidelines posted Thursday do recommend that local officials should consider closing schools, or keeping them closed, if there is substantial, uncontrolled transmission of the virus.

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.

In an unsigned update called “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall,” the CDC says “the best available evidence” leads to this conclusion.

As of July 17, people in the United States who are younger than 18 account for less than seven percent of COVID-19 cases, and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths.

“Death rates among school-aged children are much lower than among adults,” the CDC wrote.

Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, 64 children have died from COVID-19, which is less than each of the past five flu seasons. Still, kids with underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk of suffering a severe illness.

The report notes that there are few reports of children being the driving force of transmission within families. “This is consistent with data from both virus and antibody testing, suggesting that children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 spread in schools or in the community,” the statement reads.

“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 to talk about children’s social, emotional and behavioral health, which they say are significantly harmed by schools being closed.

The CDC also says children’s behavioral health, economic well-being and academic achievement is harmed in the short- and long-term.

“Further, the lack of in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities,” the CDC wrote. “These students are far less likely to have access to private instruction and care and far more likely to rely on key school-supported resources like food programs, special education services, counseling, and after-school programs to meet basic developmental needs.”

The CDC says in-classroom instruction does the following:

  • provides educational instruction;
  • supports the development of social and emotional skills;
  • creates a safe environment for learning;
  • addresses nutritional needs; and
  • facilitates physical activity.

UPDATE | Read the new information from the CDC here.

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