In the city of Atlanta public schools, teachers and children’s faces are covered with masks, desks are spaced at least 6 feet apart, and students and Covid-19 tests are offered to staff are children each week. Classes are offered both in-person and online, CNN reported.
CDC Guidelines On Reopening Of Schools Get Mixed Response
These were only some of the Covid-19 safety measures adopted by Atlanta Public Schools as they welcomed students back into classrooms this year. According to Superintendent Lisa Herring, who spoke to CNN, the latest development was widespread surveillance testing.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance Friday detailing strategies for the safe reopening of schools during the pandemic. Herring said the CDC guidelines offered a sense of reassurance as the school district’s safety practices were among the CDC recommendations.
She said that gave them some reassurance around acknowledging that they were making decisions that were going in the right direction.
She added there was still perhaps a bit more that could be beneficial to them as district leaders in terms of resources and recommendations.
The guidance comes with the Biden administration aiming to reopen more schools safely.
President Joe Biden said in a CNN town hall with Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night that he wanted kindergarten through eighth-grade schools open five days a week, and he thought the nation would be near that goal by the time he completed 100 days in office.
Biden added that the loss of being able to be back in school was having a significant impact on the children and parents as well. The town hall in Milwaukee was his first trip outside Washington since assuming office.
However, not every city in the United States had been willing to open yet.
Also, in many communities across the country, the CDC guidelines were just the latest data point in arguments between adults who wanted children back in classrooms now and those concerned over reopening due to Covid-19 risks.
According to Annette Anderson, a professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Education and deputy director for the Center for Safe and Healthy Schools, some of this debate was starting to fall along race and class lines, and that was a sign that this equity question continued to dominate the conversation around reopening, and every parent’s perspective was valid.
Anderson comments came in reference to the more severe impact suffered by Black and Brown children by coronavirus, with higher case rates, hospitalizations and virus-complications, causing parents to be more hesitant towards the reopening of schools.
Anderson added, especially for families of color, that this issue around Covid cases in children had to be resolved. She said the more consistent guidance that the CDC could offer in conjunction with other federal agencies over time, it would start building back those families’ trust.
The CDC guidance calls on schools to follow certain key strategies to limit the spread of Covid-19. These include the wearing of masks, washing hands, physical distancing, keeping classrooms clean and well-ventilated, and contact tracing when someone in the school tested positive for the virus. According to the agency, vaccines and testing were not among the “key” strategies. They were listed as “additional layers” of Covid-19 prevention.
Those measures, however, cost money.
According to The National Education Association, in order for schools to have the necessary resources to follow these mitigation strategies, the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan was needed, which included $170 billion for K-12 school buildings and college campuses, CNN reported. With the funding, ventilation systems, and personal protective equipment for students and teachers, the NEA added that students and teachers would be supported among other Covid-19 safety tools.