It’s an unforgettable back-to-school season for parents, students, and teachers across the U.S. Schools opened this fall to find thousands of coronavirus-infected students and teachers.
It wasn’t the long-awaited return of normality that many had hoped for when they resumed in-person instruction. Districts have had to deal with angry parents, school board members, and the general public about mandated vaccines. Quarantine regulations have changed. Mask requirements have also changed. There are many reasons to be confused and distressed.
What is happening in U.S. schools? While the details may vary from one district to another, here are some clues:
WHAT DOES THE CDC RECOMMEND ABOUT MASKS IN SCHOOLS
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone wear a mask to school, regardless of their vaccination status or local case level.
WHAT ABOUT LUNCH WHAT ABOUT LUNCH?
According to the CDC, schools should have plans for distancing when students need to take off their masks while indoors. This could be during eating or band practice.
I HAD CLOSE CONTACT WHICHEVER HAD COVID-19. IS IT IMPOSSIBLE TO STAY AWAY DURING SCHOOL?
The CDC asks you to have your vaccinations tested as soon as possible and to be quarantined for up to 14 days. If you are negative, you may be able to return to school sooner in some areas. You don’t need to quarantine if you have recovered from COVID-19 within the last three months, and you have not developed symptoms. You can still monitor your symptoms even if you are fully vaccinated.
I TEST POSITIVE, BUT I AM FULLY VACCINATED AND DO NOT SHOW SYMPTOMS, MAY I GO TO SCHOL?
No. No. Staff and students should not return to school within 10 days of developing symptoms or receiving positive tests. Students and staff must also be isolated for at least 24 hours after any fever has subsided, if possible, without medication.
FOOTBALL PRACTICE: WHAT DO YOU THINK? THE SCHOOL PLAY
Federal officials stress that those in quarantine and people who are sick should not participate in extracurriculars or sports.
OK, BUT WHAT IF THE CLOSE CONTACT IS IMPORTANT? HOW DISTINCTIVE DO STUDENTS HAVE to BE?
According to the CDC, close contact is defined as being within 6 feet (2 metres) of an infected individual for a period of at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period. The CDC made an exception this summer for students in K-12 classrooms. As long as everyone is properly masked, it doesn’t matter if you come across infected students less than 3 feet (1 meter), or 6 feet (2 meters). Teachers and other adults do not get the same exemption.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES MASK POLICIES MAKE QUARANTINES PERFORM?
Potentially, a huge one. Schools that require masks are less likely to need to quarantine entire classes or large numbers students if one student becomes ill. However, some schools are still required to do so.
What do FEDERAL OFFICIALS STAY ABOUT REMOTE LEARING PLANS?
Although some districts may not have made provisions for teaching sick or exposed students remotely, federal officials recommend that they do so. Federal officials want districts to maximize in-person learning but also ensure that students have access to good online instruction and remote technology when it isn’t feasible.
DISTRICTS DO INTERPRET THESE RECOMMENDATIONS INDIFFERENTLY? Is this all a suggestion?
CDC guidelines are not binding on individual states or school districts. While some states have guidelines that they apply to all school districts, others allow districts to create their own policies.
CAN SCHOOLS REQUIRE COVID-19 VACCINES IF KIDS ARE OLD ENOUGH
It all depends on where you live. Minimum nine states, including Alabama and Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa (Iowa), Montana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Texas, Texas, Tennessee, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa and Montana have no requirement of vaccinations.
A variety of states and districts require teachers to be vaccinated. In some cases, they can opt out by having regular testing for the virus. The Los Angeles public schools became the second-largest in the country earlier this month. Other large districts require students to be vaccinated for extracurricular activities and sports.
WHAT IS GOING ON WITH BUS DRIVER SHORTAGES HOW DO KIDS GET TO SCHULE?
Bus drivers are in short supply across the country due to the tight labor market, fear of coronavirus infection and a shortage of bus drivers in certain districts. Massachusetts has called in the National Guard to maintain bus service.