The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines Thursday for reopening schools that emphasize getting students back in the classroom by laying out the social, emotional and mental risks of keeping students at home.
Among the recommendations for resuming in person instruction are: social distancing, wearing masks, and keeping the same groups of kids and teachers together throughout the day.
Also, schools should use other areas of their campuses for classrooms, like gyms or outdoor spaces.
While the guidelines point out schools should consider local COVID-19 transmission rates, the CDC argues opening in the fall is best for students – something the White House was calling for.
“For Trump, it’s all politics in trying to get everyone back into school,” said East Side Union High School District Superintendent Chris Funk.
Funk made the early decision to do distance learning because their zip code, in the east side of San Jose, has some of the highest case numbers in the South Bay.
“We have large high schools of 3,000 students at a couple of them,” he said. “There is no way we could implement the CDC guidelines.”
The guidelines point out transmission for children is low in countries that’ve reopened schools. And kids under 18 in the U.S. make up about 6% of cases and 0.1% of deaths. But Funk says it’s not worth losing one person.
“I’m not willing to take that responsibility and I’m not going to be cavalier about it,” the superintendent said. “Not only for the protection of our students but for the protection of our staff.”
Some parents agree with the CDC findings that transmission is low, and it’s important for kids to get back in the class for their overall health.
“I’m 100% confident I would send him to school,” said Danville parent Brenda Balingit. “My son’s social and emotional well-being is at risk. He’s an athlete, he likes to be around others.”
But in this case, the state and local districts make the final decisions.
In California, schools can only reopen if the county they are in has been off the monitoring list for 14 consecutive days. That means at least 80% of students will start the school year at home.