CDC: Schools must be able to screen students & staff upon reopening

Agency releases guidelines for districts planning to resume in-building education

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated guidelines Thursday for school administrators to consider before reopening schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CDC’s advisory said in part that “it is important to check with state and local health officials and other partners to determine the most appropriate actions while adjusting to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local community.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a flow-chart with guidelines on how to safely reopen schools after the COVID-19 pandemic. May 14, 2020. (CDC)

Before reopening schools, the federal agency recommended that districts be able to accomplish the following:

  • Meet the requirements of state and local health officials;
  • Have the ability to protect students and staff who are at a higher risk of severe illness, and;
  • Have the ability to screen students and employees for symptoms and any history of exposure to COVID-19.

Those three criteria represent only the first tier of the CDC’s reopening guidelines. Districts are advised to implement exhaustive safety and monitoring protocols including the promotion of good hygiene inside the school buildings, an increase in disinfection, social-distancing and staff training.

DOCUMENT: View a PDF version of the CDC’s flowchart

The CDC also recommends districts set-up ongoing monitoring protocols:

  • Develop and implement procedures to check for signs and symptoms of students and employees daily upon arrival, as feasible;
  • Encourage anyone who is sick to stay home;
  • Plan for if students or employees get sick;
  • Regularly communicate and monitor developments with local authorities, employees, and families regarding cases, exposures, and updates to policies and procedures;
  • Monitor student and employee absences and have flexible leave policies and practices, and;
  • Be ready to consult with the local health authorities if there are cases in the facility or an increase in cases in the local area

A spokeswoman for Duval County Public Schools released the following statement Friday:

The new guidelines mirror earlier protocols for summer camps, which led St. Johns County to cancel its seasonal programs on Friday.

About the Author: