The Biden administration’s guidelines on how schools can “open safely” come from several federal agencies and departments, according to several people, knowing the plan.
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) is expected to issue an “operational strategy” advising that it may be safe for K-12 schools to reopen if they use recommended “mitigation” practices, according to an education department email. asks for official feedback from education groups and obtained by CBS News.
The CDC guide, expected to be released this week, builds on guidelines already issued by the agency, a federal official told CBS News. COVID-19 is expected to focus on five areas of mitigation in schools, rather than relying on vaccination of teachers as a prerequisite for reopening.
Mitigation practices include ensuring that teachers and students wear masks, maintain adequate social distance, and introduce an appropriate “hand hygiene” program with appropriate cough and sneezing etiquette.
According to the official, the instructions also include advice on cleaning and ventilating facilities, implementing a strong contact monitoring program, and isolation and quarantine.
The Biden government will advise that vaccination of teachers be complementary and suggest that, if school districts adhere to recommended mitigation practices, mandatory vaccination of all teachers is not a prerequisite for reopening schools. There has already been a strong indication that this position will be accepted by the administration, as Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said this last week.
“There is growing evidence that schools can reopen safely and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” Walensky said Wednesday, reiterating that vaccinating teachers is “not a prerequisite”.
But White House spokesman Jen Psaki said Walensky spoke in his “personal capacity” as the CDC’s guidance was not published.
This was a debate among some teachers ’unions who insisted on vaccinating educators before schools reopened. However, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Teachers Association, told Boston Public Radio on Friday that vaccinating teachers is “not a prerequisite” for reopening.
But teachers are already in the focus group on vaccination: according to the COVID-19 vaccination recommendations established by the CDC Immunization Advisory Committee, instructors are included in Figure 1b. They are in phase.
By February 9, at least 26 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had made some or all of their teachers available to receive vaccinations against the coronavirus, Education Week notes.
The guide is expected to include all K-12 students, in contrast to Biden’s current White House goal of reopening schools, which only targets K-8 classrooms. Asked to clarify Mr Biden’s goal on Tuesday, Psaki said the goal was to reopen “the majority of schools – that is, more than 50%” with teachers who teach “at least one day a week” to 100.
But 64 percent of K-8 students already offer some form of personal education, either full personal education or a part-time hybrid learning model,.
In a Sunday interview, President Biden told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell that the guide could be released as early as Wednesday. But a federal official later said the release date is likely to be Friday. Several officials told CBS News that the guide is still ready and could change.
According to an email from Kimberly Watkins-Foote, Acting Director of National Commitment at the Department of Education, “after the CDC announces its updated guidelines, the Department of Education plans to issue” volumes “of its own guidance.
First, it focuses on the “practical application” of CDC guidelines: how to plan personal learning and engagement, as well as additional “support” and “protection” for students and faculty, with a particular focus on trauma-based approaches. the socio-emotional needs of students and staff, ”the e-mail writes. This guide also provides advice to districts on how to use resources for schools and state and local governments to make schools safer.
The second volume is expected in the “next few weeks” and, according to the email, contains ten topics so far. “Theme drafts” may vary, but are currently addressing the social and emotional well-being of both students and faculty, how to bridge the learning gaps created by COVID-19, “supporting educators, including promoting the diversity of educators.” online and in-person learning, school nutrition and “digital equity”.
Another theme is ‘extended learning time’, which may reflect a shift in this year’s school calendar or a change in summer school, to which Mr Biden briefly refers in his COVID-19 national strategic plan.
The Department of Education’s guidance may also review other concerns about “equality of resources” related to racial and socio-economic concerns, “school discipline,” and increasing data collection “to support students, parents, and educators”. Last week, the federal government announced a plan to track how many schools in the country teach in person or in practice.
The Ministry of Education has begun asking for feedback from education groups on these topics. In his first few working days, Mr. Biden issued several enforcement orders to the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a “handbook” for reopening schools.
The CDC did not respond immediately to the comment. The White House and the Department of Education did not want to comment.