As students in some areas make their way back into the classroom, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered guidelines to determine whether or not it is safe to reopen schools fully.
According to the CDC guidelines, four percent of children live in counties where transmission of COVID-19 is low enough for full in-person learning without strict restrictions, the New York Times reports.
The CDC urges officials in education across the country to open every elementary school in some form.
While cases of the novel virus are declining, only a few counties in the United States meet the CDC’s starting point to avoid significant restrictions, including positivity rates and the number of COVID-19 cases in the area.
As of February 25, those numbers put most areas in categories where the CDC recommends elementary schools reduce classroom size with a mix of remote and in-person learning.
For middle and high schools, the data suggests fully remote learning in most across across the nation.
Full in-person learning
This is recommended in areas where the CDC reports fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 in seven days, with less than 8 percent positivity rates. Only about one-sixth of America’s counties qualified last week and mostly in areas across the Plains, the West and the Midwest. Precautions such as wearing masks, frequent hand washing and social distancing are also recommended.
For a combination of remote and in-class learning, data has to show 50 to 100 new weekly cases per 100,000 people or a seven-day positivity rate of 8 to 10 percent. During in-class teaching, six-foot separation between students is “required."
Completely remote learning
This is recommended for 6th to 12th grade students in areas that show at least 100 new cases per 100,000 people or a seven-day positivity rate of 10 percent or more. Exceptions can be made for middle and high schools to reopen if they "strictly implement" all mitigation strategies, such as masks, hand washing, and social distancing.
Even with the recommendations, the CDC noted how the decision to reopen schools should be based on a variety of factors.
“Decisions about learning mode — full in-person, hybrid, or virtual — at each individual school should be made based on a combination of factors, including levels of community transmission, mitigation, and the number of cases in the school (including individuals in isolation and quarantine)," CDC spokesperson Jasmine Reed told the outlet.