CDC defends school guidelines as advocates say they make it too hard to reopen

By: | February 16, 2021

For months, President Joe Biden has been urging schools to reopen and saying guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would help them do so safely. At the same time, public health experts including some at the CDC said available evidence suggested schools could safely open as long as precautions were in place. That raised expectations that the nation’s K-12 education system might accelerate its return to in-person learning.

But the much-anticipated guidelines were more measured than some expected, with full in-person schooling recommended only when levels of community transmission are quite low, a standard that almost no place in the United States meets today.

Under the rubric laid out, the CDC recommends either fully remote or hybrid plans in which students spend some time in school and some at home, for areas with substantial community spread. Even though case counts are falling, the definition of substantial spread includes most of the country.

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