(WIVB) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released new guiding principles for schools to protect students and staff while reopening.
The CDC says the more people a student or staff member has contact with and the length of interaction can increase the risk of spreading COVID-19. The agency says the lowest risk school setting is virtual-only classes, activities and events. Small, in-person classes with the same teacher all day without mixing groups of students and practicing social distancing has more risk. The highest risk is for full size, in-person classes with students sharing space, materials and supplies.
The CDC says schools can consider many strategies to help reduce the spread including staying at home when appropriate, educating staff and families about when students should stay home, washing hands and proper respiratory etiquette. The agency says schools should teach and reinforce washing hands with soap for 20 seconds. Schools should also encourage staff and students to cough and sneeze into a tissue, followed immediately by proper hand washing.
Other strategies include cloth face coverings, adequate supplies of soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, disinfectant and tissues and signs and messages placed in highly visible locations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage schools to regularly clean and disinfect, discourage sharing items that are difficult to clean, and adjust classroom layouts and communal spaces. The agency also encourages physical barriers and guides.
The CDC suggests schools ask children and parents to bring their own meals if possible. Cafeterias should have disposable food service items like utensils and dishes. If food is available for any event, schools should have pre-packaged boxes instead of a buffet or family style meal.
Schools should also have a plan in place for when someone gets sick. This includes a notification process, isolation criteria, and a cleaning and disinfectant plan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says their guidelines are meant to supplement, not replace, any state local or tribal health and safety laws.
For more information on the CDC’s suggested guidelines, click here.