The CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention) recently updated its “Considerations for Schools” guidance, suggesting stringent cleaning and social distancing practices for school districts upon any return to physical classrooms. In addition to recommending that district leaders work with state and local officials in deciding what approach is “feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community,” the CDC also offers direction to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and what to do when someone gets sick at school.
The Considerations for Schools guidance assesses infection risk, from lowest (engaging in remote learning classes and activities) to more (small, in-person classes and activities following social distancing protocols such as staying 6 feet apart and not sharing objects) to highest (full-sized in-person interaction with no precautions).
Behaviors that reduce spread are a point of emphasis for educators, including the promotion of staying home when appropriate, teaching hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, using cloth face coverings, maintaining clear communication through multiple methods, and having adequate cleaning supplies on hand.
The CDC offers advice on how to maintain healthy environments, which focuses on cleaning and disinfection, not sharing objects and devices, checking for proper ventilation, and redesigning communal spaces to accommodate social distancing rules. Spreading desks six feet apart is also highly recommended, and can be used to determine how many students can safely occupy one classroom.
Guidance for day-to-day school operations is also provided. How to properly regulate gatherings and visitors, protect students and staff at high risk for infections, potentially implementing staggered scheduling, and training staff to recognize signs and symptoms, are among the information listed.
Finally, strategies for when someone gets sick are included, from proper notification and disinfection practices to isolation and public communication policies.