cdc director redfield

CDC director says agency won't be revising guidelines for reopening schools

July 9, 2020
Robert Redfield says the agency will provide schools with additional information to help administrators use the guidelines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will not revise its guidelines for reopening schools despite calls from the White House to do so, agency Director Robert Redfield says.

Redfield said on ABC's Good Morning America that instead of revising the guidelines, the CDC will provide additional reference documents.

"Our guidelines are our guidelines, but we are going to provide additional reference documents to aid basically communities in trying to open K-through-12s," Redfield said. "It's not a revision of the guidelines; it's just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance we put forward."

CNN reports that Redfield's comments risk further adding to a sense of confusion about how best to reopen schools for 2020-21 amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

President Donald Trump has vehemently called for schools to reopen and threatened to cut off school funding, though the federal government's ability to do so is limited.

During a media briefing on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said the CDC would issue new guidance on reopening schools.

Current CDC guidelines for reopening schools spell out elaborate steps to keep children safe. They call for desks to be placed six feet apart when feasible and for children to face in the same direction on one side of tables and the use of cloth face coverings.

The agency also suggests closing communal areas such as dining rooms and playgrounds and installing physical barriers such as sneeze guards where necessary. It proposes that staff who are at risk of Covid-19 complications because of health conditions could telework or be assigned other duties, and says children with medical conditions could learn online.

Given such advice, it was not clear how the CDC guidelines could be eased without raising the risk that a return to school could lead to more coronavirus cases.

The guidelines say the highest risk of Covid-19 transmission could come with full-capacity classes, a lack of social distancing and with children mixing between lessons.

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