CDC issues guidelines for reopening K-12 schools and universities after pandemic

With US schools considering the safest ways to conduct class in the fall, the CDC provided updated policies on how to make and implement that decision. Here's a peek into the various guidelines for parents and teachers.

COVID-19: How universities made the pivot to e-learning

The coronavirus pandemic not only forced professionals to operate remotely, but it also pushed in-person schooling online. As the government begins reopening the country in phases, K-12 schools and universities are considering the best, and healthiest, way to conduct the fall semester.   

Nearly all schools in the US adopted a virtual class structure during the spring semester of 2020. As a result, online learning tools are booming. Popular elearning tools include Canva, Khan Academy, Code.org, and Age of Learning, according to the Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence.

SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic)

Whether schools decide to continue virtually, come back in-person, or institute a hybrid approach, the new normal will look very different. To help educational institutions navigate this unprecedented time, the CDC released a slew of helpful guides.

The documents cover considerations for operating institutes of higher education, interim guidance for resuming school and day camps, interim guidance for resuming child care programs, and how to help your child cope with stress.    

Considerations for operating institutes of higher education (IHE)

The CDC outlined some helpful tips to IHE as they begin to consider opening. The guide begins with general principles to keep in mind, including what situations will place faculty and students at lowest risk and highest risk. 

If schools do decide to open, the guide offered and explored the following pieces of advice: 

  • Encourage any individuals who have potentially been exposed to or displayed symptoms of COVID-19 to self-isolate or stay home
  • Recommend and reinforce handwashing and the use of cloth face coverings 
  • Provide adequate supplies to on-campus facilities including hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, paper towels, tissues, disinfectant wipes, cloth face coverings (as feasible), and no-touch/foot pedal trash cans
  • Post signs in highly visible areas to promote everyday protective measures and outline how to stop the spread
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces 
  • Ensure ventilation and water systems are operating correctly
  • Space seating and desks at least six feet apart when possible   
  • Provide grab-and-go options for food service

The guide also features a section on how to maintain healthy operations at IHEs for higher risk individuals and how to prepare for if someone gets sick. 

Guide for resuming K-12 school and day camps 

This guide focuses on keeping communities safe when K-12 learners return to school, providing critical support for parents and guardians also returning to work. The root of these recommendations depend on community monitoring to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, according to the guide. 

  • For schools of any size, the CDC recommended the following steps: 
  • Establish and maintain communication with local and state authorities to determine current mitigation levels in your community
  • Protect and support staff and students who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as providing options for telework and virtual learning
  • Provide teachers and staff from higher transmission areas telework, and other options, as feasible to eliminate travel to schools and camps in lower transmission areas and vice versa
  • Encourage any other external community organizations that use the facilities also follow this guidance
  • Promote social distancing
  • Intensify cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation
  • Limit sharing between children 
  • Conduct daily health checks for symptoms 
  • Plan for when a staff member, child, or visitor becomes sick 

Guide for resuming childcare programs 

Many parents returning to work will be anxiously waiting the reopening of childcare programs. For these facilities, the CDC recommended and detailed the following tips and more: 

How to help your child cope with stress 

The CDC also created a document for parents on how to help your child cope with stress. The pandemic is a stressful and uncertain time for everyone, adults and children alike. However, children may be especially confused with all of the changes resulting from the virus. 

The guide outlines common changes to look for that might indicate your child is coping with stress. The warning signs include excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating habits, unhealthy sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention and concentration, according to the guide.

The CDC recommended the following tactics for supporting children: 

For more, check out CDC guidelines on reopening businesses after the pandemic on TechRepublic.

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