CDC report warned against fully reopening schools—here's why

There are "noticeable gaps" in many K-12 reopening plans—gaps that put communities at risk for coronavirus.

CDC report warned against fully reopening schools—here's why

President Trump wants schools to reopen and so do many parents. The end of the 2019-2020 school year was so hard, and so many families are longing for a more normal schedule for the 2020-2021 school year.

But according to an internal report by the Centers for Disease Control, there are "noticeable gaps" in many K-12 reopening plans—gaps that put communities at risk for COVID-19.

The New York Times obtained the 69-page document, which was compiled after CDC experts reviewed reopening plans drafted by states, schools and school districts.


Why the CDC warned against fully reopening schools

"While many jurisdictions and districts mention symptom screening, very few include information as to the response or course of action they would take if student/faculty/staff are found to have symptoms, nor have they clearly identified which symptoms they will include in their screening," the report notes. "In addition, few plans include information regarding school closure in the event of positive tests in the school community."

The report was meant to assist the federal government in establishing reopening timelines and plans, but President Trump has made it clear he does not agree with the CDC, which deemed unchecked school reopenings as putting the country at "highest risk" for COVID-19 spread.

The President issued a statement on Twitter, explaining: "I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!"

As Motherly has previously reported, President Trump is not alone in wanting schools to reopen. Many parents and pediatricians want schools to reopen in the fall, but at the same time, many teachers and parents are, like the CDC, concerned about gaps in the safety plans needed to do that.

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There is no easy answer here. There are so many reasons why schools need to reopen and there are plenty of reasons why we can't just throw the doors open in September. But we can't give up on kids, parents and, importantly, on safety. School divisions should be aware of the CDC guidance and parents should have access to all the information they need to make an informed decision for their family.

For some families (especially those with immunocompromised family members) the risks of returning to school in the fall may be too high. For others, the benefits outweigh the risks. It's going to be a very individual decision based on each family's individual needs.

There's no way to remove 100% of this risk of school transmission, but re-entry plans should be as good as they can be. That's what the CDC wants and what kids and teachers deserve.

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