The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its guidelines on schools reopening Friday to say that in the case of infection, a school should not have to close.
Instead, the agency is recommending “short-term class suspension” and the cancellation of school events, such as sports or field trips. The news follows months of disagreement in the US over how and whether schools should open. Meanwhile, the country suffers under the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world. Over 5.7 million people in the US have been infected with COVID-19, with over 176,000 fatalities.
“We owe it to our nation's children to take personal responsibility to do everything we can to lower the level of COVID-19, so that we can all get back to school safely,” Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, told reporters on Friday, US-based news organization ABC reported.
Redfield went on to note that a recent CDC study had found that child care centers in the US state of Rhode Island had been able to operate successfully while the coronavirus was circulating in the community. However, when surrounding infections increased in surrounding communities it transferred to centers, leading to shutdowns.
“Schools are not islands in and of themselves,” Redfield added, ABC reported. “They are connected to the communities that surround them.”
The scientific evidence over the COVID-19 threat level to children and the transmission risk by children has changed over time.
New research now suggests that children are as effective at spreading the virus as adults. The World Health Organization also recently changed its face mask-wearing guidelines to recommend all children over the age of 12 wear masks in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“Children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a one-meter distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area,” the agency said in its new guidelines.