The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have updated their school safety guidelines in a major push for in-person instruction that causes teacher unions to call for change a policy measure spearheaded by the Trump administration that ultimately puts the lifetime.
The new guidelines emphasize face-to-face instruction in communities not considered COVID-19 hotspots, which CDC Director Robert Redfield described in a Friday telereport as areas where the positivity rate of the COVID-19 test it is greater than five percent. Texas’ current positivity rate is around 13 percent.
“It is vitally important to our public health to open schools this fall,” said Redfield. “I know this has been a difficult time for our nation’s families. School closings have disrupted the normal ways of life for children and parents, and have had negative consequences for the health of our youth. CDC is prepared to work with K-12 schools to safely reopen while protecting the most vulnerable. “
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The new guidelines reverse the course into some of the organization’s previous guidelines and include failing to screen all students for symptoms, not closing entire schools if a person tests positive, and offering more guidance on wearing face masks in the classroom. . The guidelines also provide new information on decision-making tools and checklists for parents and frequently asked questions for administrators.
CDC officials and US Department of Education officials said the guidelines take into account the risks the virus poses to children and the evidence that learning at home can have detrimental effects on education. of children and their mental and emotional well-being. According to the CDC, COVID-19 poses “relatively low risks” for school-age children compared to adults. As of July 17, children under the age of 18 account for less than seven percent of COVID-19 cases and less than .1 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC .
“Research and science continue to suggest that it is safer, healthier, and better for students to be in school full time,” said Dr. Mitchell Zais, assistant secretary for education during the briefing on Friday. “Too many government schools have already failed their students last spring. It can’t happen again this fall.”
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The shift toward in-person instruction comes after President Donald Trump publicly criticized CDC’s previous recommendations, calling them “difficult and expensive guidelines” that “ask schools to do very impractical things.”
I disagree with @CDCgov on their very difficult and expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them to open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will meet them!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2020
The Texas ATF, the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, responded to the new guidelines by calling them “a public relations speech so that as many children return to the classroom as soon as possible” and said the CDC is “basing their momentum on a White House agenda and dubious claims about how children are at minimal risk, both to themselves and to their teachers and their families. “
“Unbelievable, isn’t it, how in two weeks the CDC can go from an internal document that points out the high risk of reopening the school to say now that it is perfectly safe to push millions of children into classrooms,” said the president of Texas AFT Zeph Capo. he said in a press release. “These guidelines have been sent to the White House gift wrap and are now an insulting and politically packaged campaign piece.”
The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said in a statement in response to the guidelines that the CDC changed its tone to “accommodate President Trump’s whims” and added that schools cannot safely reopen until do more to contain the virus.
“The CDC could really help parents and educators by issuing a clear set of protocols and facilitating navigation, rather than offering endless checklists that send people looking for answers,” Weingarten said in the statement.
After the Texas Education Agency extended the transition period for schools to start the year virtually from three to eight weeks, several districts in the Houston area chose to start the year virtually, including Houston ISD, the largest school district from Texas. Shortly after the TEA extended its timeline, Harris County and Houston area health authorities ordered that all county schools be required to delay in-person instruction for the first eight weeks of the 2020-21 school year.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement Tuesday announcing that local health authorities cannot issue radical orders to close schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“While local health authorities may have some authority to close schools in limited circumstances, they cannot issue general orders to close all schools on a purely preventive basis,” Paxton said in the statement. “That decision remains legitimately responsible to the leaders of the school system.”
From Sunday to Monday, the Houston region added 1,571 new COVID-19 cases and is now at 94,438 total cases. Harris County experienced an increase of 846 new cases and stands at 66,195 cases total. During that same one-day period, Texas added 4,331 new cases and now stands at 395,338 new cases total, according to data analysis from the Houston Chronicle.