Thefor reopening schools is expected to include recommendations for phased reopening based on rates of community transmission, according to a draft internal summary by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention obtained by CBS News on Thursday.
This phased approach for reopening provides recommendations for types of instruction for K-12 schools, based on the prevalence of coronavirus in the area and broken down into four color-coded “zones” – full in-person, hybrid, reduced attendance and virtual-only.
The summary of the guidance obtained by CBS News does not stipulate the rates of community spread that determine who qualifies for each zone.
K-12 Schools are in the “Blue” zone if they have low community spread, and in the “Yellow” zone, with moderate transmission. Blue and Yellow Zones are recommended to allow for a reopening with full in-person learning, with as much social distancing as possible. Schools in the “Orange” zone, which are classified as having substantial transmission, are recommended to have hybrid learning or reduced attendance, with required social distancing.
“Red” zone schools are broken into two categories: Those that engage in regular screening testing of asymptomatic staff and students, and those that do not. “Red” zone schools that do not test should have hybrid learning or reduced attendance with mandatory physical distancing in elementary schools only; middle and high schools should be virtual-only. Schools that conduct screening testing can have hybrid learning or reduced attendance for all elementary, middle, and high schools, with required social distancing, according to the draft summary of the guidelines.
Several officials told CBS News that these guidelines are still being finalized, and could change. Additional details could also be added to the final guidance.
For all levels of community transmission, universal mask-wearing and testing of symptomatic individuals and their close contacts is required.
As CBS News has previously reported, the guidelines will also focus on five mitigation strategies: Universal masking; social distancing; hand-washing and respiratory etiquette; cleaning and ventilating facilities and contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine protocols. These practices are expected to be undertaken regardless of community transmission rates.
If schools put these mitigation measures in place, access to vaccinations should not be a precondition for reopening schools, the draft guidance says, which is in line with recent statements by CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. However, the draft guidance stresses that teachers should be prioritized for vaccines, and that once educators are vaccinated, schools should continue to implement these mitigation practices.
A majority of states have made some or all teachers eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine, according to Education Week.
The draft guidance stipulates social distancing of 6 feet in schools. Some health officials, including a group from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, had previously argued 3 feet of social distance could be used for younger students.
The CDC is…