CDC director criticizes schools with large Covid outbreaks for not following agency’s guidelines – and insists that teachers and children aged 12 and over should carry on wearing masks
- Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said schools that are suffering COVID-19 outbreaks are not following federal guidelines
- Walensky says there is no reason for the agency adjust recommendations for in-person learning at this time
- She says that schools are still safe to attend, and that transmission in schools is still relatively low
- Guidelines recommend vaccination, masking, distancing and increased ventilation in schools
- COVID-19 cases among minors have grown by 50% to over 180,000 in the past week, but children make up less than 0.1 percent of Covid-related deaths
As some schools across the U.S. report COVID-19 outbreaks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is saying no updates need to be made to federal guidance.
Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, blamed the many outbreaks that have plagued the early weeks of the 2021-22 school year on schools not following the agency’s recommendations.
‘I want to strongly appeal to those districts who have not implemented prevention strategies and encourage them to do the right thing to protect the children under their care,’ Walensky said during a briefing Friday.
‘In our outbreak investigations, large-scale quarantines or large number of cases are generally occurring in schools because schools are not following our guidance.’
She is calling on schools to implement ‘multilayered’ strategies the CDC has put forth in regards to masking, distancing and ventilation.
Dr Rochelle Walensky (pictured), director of the CDC, said that schools that have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks have often failed to meet guidelines laid out by her agency
Guidelines the CDC laid out for schools includes masking, increased ventilation, physical distancing and regular testing. All staff and eligible students are recommended to get vaccinated as well. Pictured: Students at a high school in Hillsborough County return for the first day of school. An outbreak in Hillsborough County that led to over 10,000 people being placed in quarantine was cited by Walensky as one of the failures to meet CDC guidelines
The prevention measures include vaccination for all eligible students and staff, masking, increased ventilation, physical distancing and regular testing.
‘Schools should implement as many as these prevention layers as possible simultaneously,’ she said.
‘… we know these multilayered mitigation strategies work and thanks to the American Rescue Plan, schools have the resources to implement these strategies.’
Walensky noted that vaccination and masking seemed to be the two measures that were not being followed the most.
She cited two specific cases of schools not following guidance and had outbreaks as a result.
In one unnamed Northern California school, an infected, symptomatic teacher attended class and read to a students without wearing a mask.
At least 27 infections of students, staff and family were all tied back to the teacher.
In another unnamed Hillsborough County School, near Tampa, Florida, 10,400 students and 340 staff members are in quarantine after contracting or being exposed to the virus.
Walensky heralded Los Angeles County, where guidelines are being followed, for preventing cases in schools, as less transmission is happening in schools than in the general population around the U.S., per CDC data.
‘Schools should implement as many of these prevention layers as possible simultaneously, and this serves to protect our children, even if there are inevitable breaches in any single layer,’ she said.
Cases among children have been growing across the country, with more than 180,000 being recorded last week, a 50 percent increase over the previous week.
Date released Friday by the CDC finds that 42 percent of teens aged 12 and over have received at least one shot of a Covid vaccine.
Children can potentially spread the virus to am adult who comes into contact with them.
But they are very unlikely to fall seriously ill from the virus themselves and they make up less than 0.1 percent of all Covid deaths.
Walensky stressed that schools are safe for children to attend.
‘Cases are not propagated in the schools and schools tend to be safer places for our children than the communities in terms of COVID spread,’ she said.