(WSYM) — The CDC has updated its COVID-19 guidance for schools…relaxing its pandemic rules and allowing for greater flexibility.
You know I’m a parent and two of my boys are in elementary school. So I’m all for supporting prevention strategies. And one of the key guidelines that the CDC updated involves masks.
Students, teachers, and staff who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask while inside the school building. Only those who are unvaccinated – and over the age of 2 - are recommended to wear masks indoors.
Now, the CDC also stressed the importance of getting vaccinated. Saying that it can help schools safely return to in-person learning. But as we know, right now, only those aged 12 and up can get vaccinated - which is why the CDC is emphasizing a multi-layered approach to in-class learning. And the prevention strategies include:
- maintaining at least 3 feet of physical distance between students in the classroom
- screening testing, contact tracing, proper ventilation, and handwashing
- The CDC also emphasizes respiratory etiquette – a fancy name for covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and washing or sanitizing your hands every time you touch your nose or mouth
- and one last important point is for students and teachers to stay home if they’re not feeling well
In the US, roughly 24% of kids aged 12 to 15 are fully vaccinated. That number is a little higher, 36% for 16 and 17-year-olds.
So, the vast majority of students are not vaccinated. Which does leave the door open for the Delta variant to slip through.
As of now, the CDC has very limited data regarding the spread of this variant in school settings. That could change as many states like Texas and Michigan have already dropped the mask mandate.
However, that doesn’t mean students will be mask-free. That decision is made by local school districts - as long as masks are not part of a state health department epidemic order. And school districts may find it much easier to go with a universal mask policy instead of trying to police who is or isn’t vaccinated.
I am hopeful that our vaccination numbers will increase. And my piece of advice to any parent who is planning to get their student vaccinated is, get the shots scheduled soon. As it takes 5 weeks to get fully vaccinated.