Enlarge /. WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 8: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a press conference of the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the U.S. Department of Education on July 8, 2020 in Washington, DC.
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention won't release new guides to reopening the school this week, contrary to recent comments from Trump administration officials.
A CDC spokesman told NPR exclusively that new documents would instead be published sometime before the end of the month. The delay is due to a fierce nationwide debate about the reopening of schools and their safe practice.
Vice President Mike Pence announced on July 8 that the agency would release new documents this week that will guide schools in their efforts to reopen classrooms safely, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that still affects much of the United States , close securely, better support. This announcement came just hours after President Trump blew up the CDC's current recommendations in a series of tweets, calling them "very hard and expensive." He also threatened to cut funds from schools that did not open before the November elections.
"Well, the President said today, we just don't want the instructions to be too strict," said Pence at a press conference shortly after the tweets. "And that's why CDC will release a number of new tools next week: five different documents that will give even more clarity about future guidelines."
The next day, CDC director Robert Redfield tried to clarify that the new documents would not contain any new or revised guidelines.
"Our guidelines are our guidelines," said Redfield in an interview with ABC's Good Morning America. “However, we will provide additional reference documents to basically help communities trying to open K to 12 year olds. It is not a revision of the guidelines. It is just a matter of providing additional information so that schools can use the guidelines we have proposed. "
Existing guidelines contain recommendations for reducing the risk of disease transmission and physical distance in schools, e.g. For example, keeping desks two meters apart, wearing masks, staggering arrival and discharge times, and eating children at their desks rather than in a cafeteria. They also point out that schools may consider closing for longer periods of time when there is "significant Community transmission of COVID-19" in the region.
Redfield described the current guidelines as a “portfolio” of recommendations with a “spectrum” of strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in schools, stressing that they are never intended to be “prescriptive”. The coming documents, he said, would help each school district develop their own strategies and possibly allow them to choose the specific measures they would like to follow.
When Pence spoke in Louisiana on Tuesday July 14, he said again that he expected Redfield and the CDC to release the new documents "later this week." Pence described it as "additional guidance for parents to operate facilities".
"But to be very clear," Pence continued, "we don't want the CDC guide to be a reason why people don't reopen their schools … we will respect all decisions made."