Children can safely return to classrooms in most communities throughout the nation if proper safety measures are taken amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) announced, saying evidence indicates that in-person instruction can be held safely as long as social distancing and mask-wearing protocols are in place.
At the same, local officials should limit indoor dining, bars, and poorly ventilated gyms in order to keep infection rates low in the community at large, the CDC researchers wrote in a report published on Tuesday, Jan. 26 in the journal JAMA.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected K-12 schools across the US," the report said. "Accumulating data now suggest a path forward to maintain or return primarily or fully to in-person instructional delivery.
"Actions include taking steps to reduce community transmission and limiting school-related activities such as indoor sports practice or competition that could increase transmission risk.
"As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolved in the spring and summer of 2020, congregate settings experienced rapid and widespread SARS-CoV-2 transmission, including both residential congregate settings (eg, long-term care facilities, correctional facilities) and high-density occupational settings (eg, meat and poultry processing facilities).
"Planning for the 2020/2021 school year included much uncertainty about the risk of transmission in school settings. While the benefits of in-person school attendance were well understood, the appropriate evaluation of its risks vs benefits was hampered by limited information about transmission risk in classroom settings.
"Closing schools could adversely affect students’ academic progress, mental health, and access to essential services; however, if SARS-CoV-2 rapidly spread in classrooms, opening schools might accelerate community transmission of the virus. There were no simple decisions for parents, teachers, administrators, or public officials.2,3
"As many schools have reopened for in-person instruction in some parts of the US as well as internationally, school-related cases of COVID-19 have been reported, but there has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission."
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