School Reopening Guidelines Fuel Public Health Debate

Headline Roundup February 18th, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance for reopening schools last week amid the COVID-19 pandemic, laying out essential features of safe reopening including mask-wearing, social distancing and more testing. Some experts praised the guidance; others say it won't do enough to fully open schools. The Biden administration has at times been inconsistent on its goals for reopening schools. On Tuesday, Biden said his 100-day goal was to have most elementary schools open five days a week; White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week that schools would be considered open if they held in-person classes at least one day per week.

Some voices on all sides are calling for schools to reopen, focusing on potential psychological consequences for children who aren't learning in-person. There's disagreement on the left about reopening schools; some are siding with scientists who say it's safe, and some are aligning with the many teachers unions that are reluctant to send teachers back before vaccines are more widely administered. Many right-rated voices have been critical of teachers unions and of the Biden administration's messaging about reopening.

School Reopening Guidelines Fuel Public Health Debate

From the Right

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said President Biden's goal to open the majority of K-8 schools by April 30 falls way short of what school children need, and the Republican Whip urged Biden to choose science over teacher unions.

Scalise, fresh off a call with concerned parents who want their schools reopened, said Biden's goal should be 100% of schools opened within his first 100 days. Anything short of that is a disservice to the children who are suffering, Scalise told Fox News in an interview Thursday.

"Either you are going...

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From the Left

Since late fall, 60,000 students and teachers across Greenville County, South Carolina, have been filing into the classroom for school the old-fashioned way: in-person, five days a week.

They've done it, Greenville superintendent Burke Royster said, by enforcing mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing -- mostly by about 3 feet with plexiglass barriers when 6 feet isn't possible -- using high-quality ventilation and launching their own contact-tracing program.

Royster said he believes his schools have lower transmission than its surrounding community -- a finding that is supported by research....

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From the Center

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s long-awaited guidance on how to safely reopen schools during the pandemic could end up keeping kids out of the classroom longer than necessary, four doctors who reviewed the guidance told CNBC.

Many public health specialists applauded the agency last week for releasing the clearest and most comprehensive federal guidance yet on whether and to what extent schools should reopen. The 35-page document defines “essential elements” of reopening that include social distancing, universal masking and some testing. It also lays out a set of...

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