HealthDay News — When schools open their doors this fall, teachers and students who are vaccinated can enter without masks, according to new guidance issued Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The relaxed recommendation comes as a national vaccination campaign in which children as young as 12 years can get COVID-19 shots unfolds, accompanied by a general decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
The CDC is not advising schools to require shots for teachers and vaccine-eligible children. Also, the agency is not offering guidance on how teachers can know which students are vaccinated or how parents will know which teachers are immunized, the Associated Press reported. Schools should continue to space children — and their desks — 3 feet apart in classrooms, the new CDC guidance says. But the agency stressed that spacing should not be an obstacle to getting children back in schools. And it said distancing is not required among fully vaccinated students or staff.
All of this may prove tricky to execute, which is why the CDC is advising schools to make decisions that make the most sense, Erin Sauber-Schatz, Ph.D., M.P.H., who leads the CDC task force that prepares such recommendations, told the AP. The biggest issues will be at middle schools where some students are eligible for shots and others are not. If sorting vaccinated and unvaccinated students proves too burdensome, administrators might choose to just keep a masking policy in place for everyone.
Widespread mask-wearing is expected to continue this fall in some of the nation’s largest school districts: In Detroit, everyone will be required to wear a mask unless everyone in the classroom has been vaccinated, the AP reported. But masks will not be mandated in Houston schools. Philadelphia was planning to require masks, but on Friday, a spokesperson said the school district is now reviewing its policy based on the CDC guidance, the AP said.