The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidelines for teachers and students on mask mandates. On Friday, July 9, 2021, the CDC stated that fully vaccinated K-12 staff and students can return to class without having to wear a mask. Additionally, the agency updated its school guidelines to help administrators and local and state officials for the fall term.
However, the CDC still recommends those who are unvaccinated — and between the ages of two to 11 — should continue to wear face coverings while indoors, in crowded situations, as well as in school. In addition, the updated guidelines say that teachers and students should also follow at least a three-foot physical distance to reduce the chances of transmission.
The new CDC guidelines mark the first time the agency has recommended that fully vaccinated teachers and students are not required to wear face coverings in the classroom. The agency’s update comes as an increase of COVID-19 cases linked to the Delta variant. This variant is more transmissible throughout the South, Southwest, and Midwestern states.
Of course, the CDC has left the final decision to local officials on the best way to reduce and contain the virus. It also depends on how many individuals get vaccinated and the level of the community spread rates. So the agency is still recommending that all who are eligible to be vaccinated should do so.
In a statement, the CDC stated, “Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the Covid-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.” However, the agency stresses its new recommendation is meant to supplement local public health policies, not replace them.
They are also encouraging school officials to allow in-person classes — even when social distancing is not possible. The CDC has been saying it is safe to get vaccinated for a little while now.
The CDC added that studies show that school COVID-19 transmission has not been a major source. Especially when schools use other precautions have been taken.
National Education Association President, Becky Pringle, released a statement saying, “Schools should be consistently and rigorously employing all the recommended mitigation strategies, including requiring masks in all settings where there are unvaccinated individuals present, and ensuring adequate ventilation, handwashing, and cleaning.”
She also said they should make sure to use “proven COVID-19 screening testing” to ensure they stay safe. Doing so will keep virus cases isolated and reduce the chances of it spreading.
Experts still believe that getting vaccinated is the best course of action. It may even prevent or lessen the chances of contracting a COVID-19 variant.
Written by Sheena Robertson
Politico: CDC: Fully vaccinated students and teachers do not need to wear masks in school; by Erin Banco, Adam Cancryn, and Juan Perez Jr.
NBC 5: CDC: Vaccinated teachers and students don’t need masks inside school buildings; by Mike Stobbe and Collin Binkley
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