On July 9, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance for K-12 schools, urging them to fully reopen in the fall.
The CDC acknowledged that “students benefit from in-person learning,” even as the delta variant of COVID-19 spreads across the United States.
The agency encouraged school districts to use local health data to help make determinations about the level of COVID-19 prevention measures to use. For instance, areas with high vaccination rates may not need to require temperature screenings to enter a building.
Generally, the CDC’s new guidance recommends social distancing and mask-wearing among the unvaccinated in schools (which effectively means many K-12 students, as no vaccine has been authorized for use for ages younger than 12).
Since many students are ineligible for a vaccine, the CDC encourages “layered prevention strategies” (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together consistently, such as social distancing and screening tests) to help protect everyone, including unvaccinated teachers.
However, the agency noted that some prevention measures, such as social distancing, may prevent schools from fully reopening. In those situations, the CDC said, layering additional protections is even more critical.
The message is clear from the CDC: Schools should reopen in the fall, take necessary precautions and inform decisions with local health data.
“[This new guidance is] a recognition that there are real costs to keeping children at home, to keeping them out of school.” —Dr. Richard Besser, a former acting director of the CDC
This new guidance from the CDC is likely to be welcomed news among working parents, many of whom have been forced to work at home alongside their children. With reopened schools, parents won’t need to divide their focus between their jobs and caregiving responsibilities.
From an employer perspective, this new guidance means working parents may no longer need to stay home to watch children. Therefore, businesses may be able to reopen more swiftly in the fall—opposed to having staff trickle back in.
Additionally, employers should consider how this new guidance may affect the benefits they provide to working parents.
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