CDC recommends layers of mitigation strategies to operate schools safely during the pandemic

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ST. PAUL, Minn. Feb. 12, 2021 – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Friday an operational strategy guide for E-12 schools to help communities deliver safe in-person instruction.  

“The main takeaway from today’s guidance is the importance of layers of mitigation within school buildings and the steps communities must take to reduce the spread of the virus outside of those buildings,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “As state and local school leaders decide how to apply these guidelines, our union will be there advocating for the steps that will allow our school buildings to safely stay open or reopen.” 

Specht noted some of the specific CDC requirements, including universal masking, 6 feet of physical distancing within buildings, high-quality ventilation within schools and frequent handwashing and surface cleaning.  

“We need to make sure those protections are available in every school for every student and staff member. This is not a time when administrators should be allowed to pick-and-choose or the state should write rules with loopholes,” Specht said. “For schools to operate safely, all the layers of mitigation must be in place.” 

For educators, the CDC recommended frequent diagnostic testing and accommodations for those educators with pre-existing conditions or who are taking care of others at risk. The agency also recommended that the state prioritize the vaccination of educators, although it stopped short of saying vaccinations were a requirement for returning to teaching in-person. 

“While the majority of Minnesota districts now offer in-person learning, there remains a lot of anxiety among educators about their own health and what will happen if there’s another spike in infections,” Specht said. “Implementing all of the CDC’s recommendations, with meaningful enforcement, would go a long way toward reassuring Minnesota’s educators and school staff.” 

The full set of recommendations is available for download on the CDC’s website here.

About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.

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