The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance this week for how to reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic. And it’s safe to say like everything else surrounding COVID-19, it’s giving parents everywhere mixed feelings.
“As some communities in the United States open K-12 schools, CDC offers the following considerations for ways in which schools can help protect students, teachers, administrators, and staff and slow the spread of COVID-19,” the agency stated in the new guidelines, released Tuesday.
The lengthy document outlines several factors to consider when reopening schools including: reducing risk with only virtual classes or smaller class sizes, promoting behaviors that reduce spread, maintaining healthy environments and operations, and preparing for when someone gets sick.
It’s important to note that nothing about this checklist is black and white.
In fact, the CDC states that each school “should be guided by what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community.”
But after the CDC released its guidelines earlier this week, several people across the internet paraphrased the recommendations into viral memes. And they’re sending parents everywhere into a spiraling panic.
Recommendations, Not Requirements
In simplifying the guidelines, some essential words were left out, making them seem like rules instead of suggestions.
For example, the CDC recommends that schools “teach and reinforce use of cloth face coverings,” while acknowledging that “face coverings may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings.”
The recommendation is that students and staff wear face masks “as feasible.” But the memes simply read: “Wear face masks if over the age of 2.”
Without the right context, that would send anyone into a frenzy!
Further guidelines in the memes include no shared spaces, physical barriers between sinks, no cafeteria food, canceled field trips, staggered arrival times, no switching of student groups or teachers, and no sharing of supplies.
But the actual CDC guidelines suggest limiting these activities, or pursuing alternatives “as possible.” They are recommendations—not requirements—to promote social distancing, which will look different for every school in every region.
The guidelines are meant to offer a variety of safety options for school administration to look to while navigating this new normal.
The CDC says the recommendations are “meant to supplement—not replace—any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which schools must comply.”
Earlier this week, For Every Mom shared a glimpse into the harrowing new reality that is reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a new world we’re living in friends. Take heart, we will make it through, together.