EXPLANATION: What are the current COVID-19 guidelines for schools?
ATLANTA (AP) – It’s a back to school like no other for students, teachers and parents across the United States. Schools opened across the country this fall to find thousands of students and their teachers sick with the coronavirus.
It was not the long-awaited return to normalcy that many had hoped for by resuming teaching in person. Along with the increase in the number of cases, districts have clashed with angry parents, school board members and the public over issues of mandatory vaccines. Quarantine rules have changed. So have mask requirements. Confusion and distress abound.
So what is happening in American schools? Details differ from district to district, but here are some answers:
WHAT DOES THE CDC RECOMMEND ABOUT MASKS IN SCHOOLS?
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone wear a mask in schools, regardless of immunization status or local case levels.
AND LUNCH? HOW ARE STUDENTS INTENDED TO PLAY SAXOPHONE?
Schools should have distancing plans when people need to remove their masks indoors, according to the CDC, such as while eating or during group practice.
I HAD CLOSE CONTACT WITH A PERSON WHO HAD COVID-19. SHOULD I STAY AWAY FROM SCHOOL?
If you are not vaccinated, the CDC wants you to be tested immediately and quarantined for up to 14 days. In some places, you can go back to school earlier if your test is negative. If you have recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months and are not having any symptoms, you do not need to quarantine yourself. Same if you are fully vaccinated, but watch for symptoms.
IF I TEST POSITIVE BUT AM COMPLETELY VACCINATED AND HAVE NO SYMPTMS, CAN I GO TO SCHOOL?
No. The CDC says anyone who tests positive should self-isolate for at least 10 days, even if they don’t have symptoms. Students and staff should not return to school until at least 10 days after developing symptoms or receiving a positive test, and at least 24 hours after any fever has subsided without the use of medication and after other symptoms improved.
AND THE PRACTICE OF FOOTBALL? THE SCHOOL GAME?
Federal officials stress that people in quarantine or sick should not participate in sports or other extracurricular activities.
OK, BUT WHAT COUNTS AS A CLOSE CONTACT? HOW AWAY SHOULD STUDENTS BE?
The CDC generally says that being within 6 feet (2 meters) of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period counts as close contact. But, over the summer, the agency made a special exception for K-12 students in classrooms. Meeting infected students within 3 feet (1 meter) and 6 feet (2 meters) doesn’t count, as long as everyone is properly masked. Teachers and other adults do not benefit from the same exemption.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DO MASK POLICIES MAKE FOR THE QUARANTINE?
A big one, potentially. Schools that require masks are now less likely to have to quarantine entire classrooms or large numbers of students when someone becomes ill – although some still are.
WHAT ARE FEDERAL OFFICERS SAYING ABOUT DISTANCE LEARNING PLANS?
Some districts have made little or no provision for distance teaching to exposed or sick students, but federal officials advise them to offer distance learning options, even if that means sending packages of paper home. Federal officials say they want districts to focus on maximizing in-person learning, but also ensure students have access to distance technology and good online education when it doesn’t. is not possible.
DO THE NEIGHBORHOODS INTERPRET THESE RECOMMENDATIONS DIFFERENTLY? IS IT ALL JUST A SUGGESTION?
States and individual school districts are not bound by CDC guidelines. Some states have standard policies that they’ve imposed on all school districts, while others allow districts to set their own policies on everything from mask requirements and quarantine rules to school policies. distance learning.
CAN SCHOOLS REQUIRE COVID-19 VACCINES FOR ELDERLY CHILDREN?
Again, it depends where you live! At least nine states have explicitly stated that schools cannot require vaccination, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas .
A number of states and individual districts require teachers to be vaccinated, in some cases allowing them to opt out with regular testing for the virus. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles public school system became the first major district – it’s the second in the country – to require all of its students ages 12 and older to get vaccinated, while other greats Districts require students who participate in sports and extracurricular activities to be immunized. .
WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE BUS DRIVER SHORTAGE? HOW DO CHILDREN GET TO SCHOOL?
Districts across the country are suddenly short of bus drivers, due to the tight labor market and fears of coronavirus infections. In Massachusetts, the state even called on the National Guard to operate the buses.
AP writer Collin Binkley contributed from Boston.