By: Katie Francis, Follow South Jersey Public Health Intern
SOUTH JERSEY — Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new and updated guidance for United States schools regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. With younger Americans becoming eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines and a high percentage of the nation now inoculated, the CDC is loosening strict recommendations. The new guidance prioritizes in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year and is highly influenced by the nationwide vaccination effort.
The CDC guidance states that promoting vaccinations is a key part in safely returning to in-person education and after school activities. That being said, the CDC urges those aged two and older who aren’t inoculated against COVID-19 to continue wearing face masks, especially indoors and in crowded settings.
Additionally, the CDC recommends that schools maintain at least three feet of physical distancing in educational settings, along with face coverings for the unvaccinated, in order to reduce transmission of the virus. Schools should also continue precautionary measures such as screening/testing, routine cleaning and disinfecting, and proper indoor ventilation to promote air flow.
Students, teachers, and staff are all responsible for taking accountability for their health, as the CDC guidance urges anyone to stay home if they feel unwell.
The guidance also highlighted the fact that a lot of schools educate children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. That being said, the updated guidance “emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies to protect people who are not fully vaccinated.”
While New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has not yet announced whether or not the state will follow suit with these new guidelines for the upcoming school year, it’s safe to say he will be on board. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Gov. Murphy has, for the most part, closely followed the guidelines of the CDC in order to get the state back to the way it was pre-pandemic. He has also previously announced that all schools should return to full-time, in-person learning for next school year.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.