CDC Guidance Says Schools Can Reopen WITHOUT Teacher/Frontline Staff Vaccinations With Multiple Other Protective Measures Including Possible "Screening Testing," Leaves Key Decisions To Locals
If LBREPORT.com didn't tell you, who would?
No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report.
LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(February 12, 2021, 1:55 p.m.) -- The Biden adminsitration's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a "guidance" on reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Titled Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation" the 36 page pdf document (with six pages of "Executive Sujmmary" quoted below) puts a key sentence near the end:
"Vaccinating teachers and school staff can be considered one layer of mitigation and protection for staff and students. Strategies to minimize barriers to accessing vaccination for teachers and other frontline essential workers, such as vaccine clinics at or close to the place of work, are optimal. Access to vaccination should not be considered a condition for reopening schools for in-person instruction. Even after teachers and staff are vaccinated, schools need to continue mitigation measures for the foreseeable future, including requiring masks in schools and physical distancing."
The CDC guidance also discusses use of "screening testing" saying it "can be used as an additional layer of mitigation to complement mitigation strategies in schools. Screening testing is intended to identify infected individuals without symptoms (or prior to development of symptoms) who may be contagious so that measures can be taken to prevent further transmission. For schools that implement expanded screening testing, screening testing should be offered at moderate (yellow), substantial (orange), and high (red) levels of community transmission, to students, teachers, and staff and at low (blue) levels to teachers and staff who have no symptoms and no known exposures..."
NPR.org:called the CDC document "a measured, data-driven effort to expand on old recommendations and advise school leaders on how to "layer" the most effective safety precautions: masking, physical distancing, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, ventilation and building cleaning, and contact tracing." It added: "For politicians, parents and school leaders looking for a clear greenlight to reopen schools, this is not it."
[Scroll down for further.]
CDC Feb,. 12, 2012 "guidance" Executive Summary Text
As communities plan safe delivery of in-person instruction in K-12 schools, it is essential to decide when
and under what conditions to help protect students, teachers, and staff and slow the spread of SARSCoV-2,
the virus that causes COVID-19. It is critical for schools to open as safely and as soon as possible,
and remain open, to achieve the benefits of in-person learning and key support services. To enable
schools to open safely and remain open, it is important to adopt and consistently implement actions to
slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 both in schools and in the community. This means that all community
members, students, families, teachers, and school staff should take actions to protect themselves and
others where they live, work, learn, and play. In short, success in preventing the introduction and
subsequent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools is connected to and facilitated by preventing
transmission in the broader community.
This operational strategy presents recommendations based on the best-available evidence at the time of
release. As science and data on COVID-19 continue to evolve, guidance and recommendations will be
updated to reflect new evidence. This document is intended to complement CDCís guidance, tools, and
resources for K-12 schools, including guidance on operating schools during COVID-19 and overview of
testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). This document is intended to complement the U.S. Department of
Educationís Handbook on Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools. It reflects
evidence on COVID-19 among children and adolescents and what is known about SARS-CoV-2
transmission in schools, summarized in CDCís Science Brief on Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in K-12
Schools. This operational strategy presents a pathway to reopen schools and help them remain open
through consistent use of mitigation strategies, especially universal and correct use of masks and
Evidence suggests that many K-12 schools that have strictly implemented mitigation strategies have
been able to safely open for in-person instruction and remain open.1 This document provides an
operational strategy to support K-12 schools in opening for in-person instruction and remaining open
through an integrated package of mitigation components. These essential elements include:
1. Consistent implementation of layered mitigation strategies to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-
2 in schools
2. Indicators of community transmission to reflect level of community risk
3. Phased mitigation and learning modes based on levels of community transmission
The following public health efforts provide additional layers of COVID-19 prevention in schools:
Testing to identify individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection to limit transmission and outbreaks
Vaccination for teachers and school staff, and in communities, as soon as supply allows
Health Equity Considerations
The absence of in-person educational options may disadvantage children from low-resourced
communities, which may include large representation of racial and ethnic minority groups, English
learners, and students with disabilities. Plans for safe delivery of in-person instruction in K-12 schools
must consider efforts to promote fair access to healthy educational environments for students and staff.
Thus, essential elements of school reopening plans should take into account the communities and
groups that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 infections and severe outcomes.
Schools play a critical role in promoting equity in education and health for groups disproportionately
affected by COVID-19.
Essential Elements of Safe K-12 School In-person Instruction
1. Mitigation strategies to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools
Regardless of the level of community transmission,?all schools should use and layer mitigation strategies.
Five key mitigation strategies are essential to safe delivery of in-person instruction and help to mitigate
COVID-19 transmission in schools:
ē Universal and correct use of masks
Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities
Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the health
Schools providing in-person instruction should prioritize two mitigation strategies:
1. Universal and correct use of masks should be required, at all levels of community transmission.
Require consistent and correct use of face masks, by all students, teachers, and staff to prevent
SARS-CoV-2 transmission through respiratory droplets.
2. Physical distancing (at least 6 feet) should be maximized to the greatest extent possible. To
ensure physical distancing, schools should establish policies and implement structural
interventions to promote physical distance of at least 6 feet between people. Cohorting or
podding is recommended to minimize exposure across the school environment.
All mitigation strategies provide some level of protection, and layered strategies implemented
concurrently provide the greatest level of protection. CDCís K-12 Schools COVID-19 Mitigation Toolkit
includes resources, tools, and checklists to help school administrators and school officials prepare
schools for in-person instruction. These tools and resources include aspects for addressing health equity
considerations such as class sizes, internet connectivity, access to public transportation, and other
2. Indicators of community transmission
School administrators, working with local public health officials, should assess the level of risk in the
community since the risk of introduction of a case in the school setting is dependent on the level of
community transmission. CDC recommends the use of two measures of community burden to
determine the level of risk of transmission: total number of new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7
days; and percentage of nucleic acid amplification test (NAATs) results that are positive during the last 7
days. The two measures of community burden should be used to assess the incidence and spread of
SARS-CoV-2 in the surrounding community (e.g., county). The transmission level for any given location
will change over time and should be reassessed weekly for situational awareness and to continuously
While risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in a school may be lower when indicators of community spread
are lower, this risk is also dependent upon the implementation of school and community mitigation
strategies. If community transmission is low but school and community mitigation strategies are not
implemented or inconsistently implemented, then the risk of exposure and subsequent transmission of
SARS-CoV-2 in a school will increase. Alternately, if community transmission is high, but school and
community mitigation strategies are implemented and strictly followed as recommended, then the risk
of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in a school will decrease.
3. Phased mitigation, learning modes, and testing
At any level of community transmission, all schools have options to provide in-person instruction (either
full or hybrid), through strict adherence to mitigation strategies1 . Recommended learning modes vary to
minimize risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in school by emphasizing layered mitigation, including school
policies requiring universal and correct mask use. The recommended learning modes (in-person, hybrid,
virtual) depend on the level of community transmission and strict adherence to mitigation.
This document presents an operational plan for schools that emphasizes mitigation at all levels of
K-12 schools should be the last settings to close after all other mitigation measures in the
community have been employed, and the first to reopen when they can do so safely. Schools
should be prioritized for reopening and remaining open for in-person instruction over
nonessential businesses and activities.
In-person instruction should be prioritized over extracurricular activities including sports and
school events, to minimize risk of transmission in schools and protect in-person learning.
Lower incidence of COVID-19 among younger children compared to teenagers2
suggests that younger students (for example, elementary school students) are likely to have less risk of inschool
transmission due to in-person learning than older students (middle school and high
Families of students who are at increased risk of severe illness (including those with special
healthcare needs) or who live with people at increased risk should be given the option of virtual
instruction regardless of the mode of learning offered.
Schools are encouraged to use cohorting or podding of students, especially in moderate
(yellow), substantial (orange), and high (red) levels, to facilitate testing and contact tracing, and
to minimize transmission across pods.
Schools that serve?populations?at risk for learning loss during virtual instruction should be
prioritized for reopening and be provided the needed resources?to implement mitigation.?
When implementing phased mitigation in hybrid learning modes, schools should consider
prioritizing in-person instruction for students with disabilities who may require special education
and related services directly provided in school environments, as well as other students who
may benefit from receiving essential instruction in a school setting.
Decisions should be guided by information on school-specific factors such as mitigation strategies
implemented, local needs, stakeholder input, the number of cases among students, teachers, and staff,
and school experience with safely reopening. A decision to remain open should involve considerations
for further strengthening mitigation strategies and continuing to monitor case incidence and test
positivity to reassess decisions.
Despite careful planning and consistent implementation of mitigation, some situations may occur that
lead school officials to consider temporarily closing schools or parts of a school (such as a class or grade
level) to in-person instruction. These decisions should be made based on careful considerations of a
variety of factors and with the emphasis on ensuring the health and wellness of students, their families,
and teachers and staff. Such situations may include classrooms or schools experiencing an active
outbreak and schools in areas experiencing rapid or persistent rises in case incidence or severe burden
on health care capacity.
Multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants are circulating globally. Some variants seem to spread more easily and
quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. Rigorous implementation of and
adherence to mitigation strategies is essential to control the spread of variants of SARS-CoV-2. As more
information becomes available, it is possible that due to increased levels of community transmission
resulting from a variant of SARS-CoV-2, mitigation strategies and school guidance may need to be
updated to account for new evidence on risk of transmission and effectiveness of mitigation.
Additional COVID-19 Prevention in Schools
When schools implement testing combined with key mitigation strategies, they can detect new cases to
prevent outbreaks, reduce the risk of further transmission, and protect students, teachers, and staff
At all levels of community transmission, schools should offer referrals to diagnostic testing to any
student, teacher, or staff member who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 at school. Schools should advise
teachers, staff, and students to stay home if they are sick or if they have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2
and refer these individuals for testing. They should also refer for testing asymptomatic individuals who
were exposed to someone with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. In some schools, schoolbased
healthcare professionals (e.g., school nurses) may perform SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing
(including rapid, point-of-care testing, and antigen testing) if they are trained in specimen collection and
obtain a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certificate of waiver. It is important that
school-based healthcare professionals have access to, and training on, the proper use of personal
protective equipment (PPE). If a COVID-19 diagnosis is confirmed, schools can assist public health
officials in determining which close contacts could be tested and either isolated or quarantined.
Individuals should isolate or quarantine at home, not in school settings, and should stay home until it is
safe for them to be around others.
Some schools may also elect to use screening testing as a strategy to identify cases and prevent
secondary transmission. Screening testing can be used as an additional layer of mitigation to
complement mitigation strategies in schools. Screening testing is intended to identify infected
individuals without symptoms (or prior to development of symptoms) who may be contagious so that
measures can be taken to prevent further transmission. For schools that implement expanded screening
testing, screening testing should be offered at moderate (yellow), substantial (orange), and high (red)
levels of community transmission, to students, teachers, and staff and at low (blue) levels to teachers
and staff who have no symptoms and no known exposures. Additional considerations in implementing
When determining which individuals should be selected for screening testing, schools and public
health officials may consider prioritizing teachers and staff over students given the higher risk of
severe disease outcomes among adults. In selecting among students, schools and public health
officials may choose to prioritize high school students, then middle school students, then
elementary school students, where applicable.
Public health officials and school administrators may consider placing a higher priority for access
to testing in schools that serve populations experiencing a disproportionate burden of COVID-19
cases or severe disease. These may include schools in communities with moderate or large
proportions of racial and ethnic groups that have experienced disproportionately high rates of
COVID-19 cases relative to population size, and schools in geographic areas with limited access
to testing due to distance or lack of availability of testing, including communities with moderate
or large proportions of racial and ethnic groups.
Every COVID-19 testing site is required to report to state or local health officials all testing
performed. Schools that use testing must apply for and receive a Clinical Laboratory
Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certificate of waiver. Schools must report test results to state
or local public health departments as mandated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic
Security (CARES) Act.
Testing should be offered on a voluntary basis. Consent from a parent or legal guardian (for
minor students) or from the individual (for adults, including adult students and teachers and
staff) is required for school-based testing.
Vaccination for teachers and staff, and in communities as soon as supply allows
Teachers and school staff hold jobs critical to the continued functioning of society and are at potential
occupational risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2. State, territorial, local and tribal (STLT) officials should
consider giving high priority to teachers in early phases of vaccine distribution. The Advisory Committee
on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that frontline essential workers, including those who
work in the education sector (teachers and school staff), be prioritized for vaccine allocation in phase
1b, following health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities (phase 1a). Vaccinating
teachers and school staff can be considered one layer of mitigation and protection for staff and
students. Strategies to minimize barriers to accessing vaccination for teachers and other frontline
essential workers, such as vaccine clinics at or close to the place of work, are optimal. Access to
vaccination should not be considered a condition for reopening schools for in-person instruction. Even
after teachers and staff are vaccinated, schools need to continue mitigation measures for the
foreseeable future, including requiring masks in schools and physical distancing.
Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.