CoronavirusCovid-19EducationLocalWilliam J. Ford

CDC Releases School Guidelines Info for Anxious Parents

For parents trying to determine how schools will reopen in the fall, many in the D.C. region plan to follow recommended guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In its most recent update Friday, July 9, the CDC highlights teachers, staff and students not fully vaccinated should “consistently” wear masks inside school buildings for students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Outdoor usage, however, isn’t necessary unless in a crowded environment or limited space.
The agency suggests children ages 2 and younger do not wear masks and schools open on a full-time basis.
The only COVID-19 vaccine available for those ages 2 to 15 remains the dose produced by Pfizer-BioNTech. The company announced last month it will begin trials to vaccinated children 12 and younger.

“The guidance is intended to help administrators and local health officials select appropriate, layered prevention strategies and understand how to safely transition learning environments out of COVID-19 pandemic precautions,” according to the CDC guidelines.

Students in Prince George’s County are scheduled to return back to school five days a week when the first day begins Sept. 8.

However, the state of Maryland’s second-largest school district has allowed parents with children in grades kindergarten to sixth grade to apply for virtual learning for the first semester. As of June 28, about 800 families enrolled.

The application process ended Friday for students in grades seven through 12 for online learning. These students must have a minimum grade-point average of 2.5 and “an exceptional attendance record.”

“We’re going to continue to follow CDC guidelines to ensure [students] safety when they return in the fall,” public schools CEO Monica Goldson said in an interview on June 28.

“Right now, there still must be mask-wearing in our school facilities. We will continue to keep our parents and community updated,” she said.

School board member Belinda Queen said parents she’s talked with children 12 and younger who appear to be concerned about a vaccine not being available for them when the school year begins.

“I think [students] should wear masks as much as possible and they should be outside as much as possible to get fresh air,” she said. “Parents need to make the best decisions for their children.”

For students 12 and older still in need of a vaccine, vaccination clinics are scheduled between 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. beginning Tuesday, July 13 at Oxon Hill School. The other list of schools can be found at https://bit.ly/2VwkjeO.

School guidelines from the CDC can be found at https://bit.ly/3kdRrT5. Here are a few:

  • Use of a frequent COVID-19 screening testing program for students, teachers and staff who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Improve ventilation in the buildings by opening multiple doors and windows, child-safe fans and make changes in the HVAC or air filtration systems.
  • Students stay home when feeling sick.
  • Maintain a physical distance of at least three feet.
  • Constantly reinforce washing hands for at least 20 seconds. If sinks are available, then provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (for those who can use it).

“If school administrators decide to remove any of the prevention strategies for their school based on local conditions, they should remove them one at a time and monitor closely…” according to the CDC.

“Schools should communicate their strategies and any changes in plans to teachers, staff, and families, and directly to older students, using accessible materials and communication channels, in a language and at a literacy level that teachers, staff, students and families understand,” the CDC said.

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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