As coronavirus cases continue to soar in the U.S., and as the start of the school year inches closer, the CDC has released new guidelines for schools that will be reopening this fall.

The CDC guidance encourages administrators to keep students in small cohorts, have the same teacher stay with the same group of students, and use outdoor spaces when possible. It also suggests developing contact tracing methods and strategies for social distancing and face masks. They have created checklists for teachers and parents covering various preventive measures they can take to stop the spread of the virus.

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Overall, the guidelines support the reopening of schools, claiming that children don’t suffer as much from coronavirus and are less likely than adults to spread it, even though the science is not conclusive on this issue.

“It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement announcing the updates. “School closures have disrupted normal ways of life for children and parents, and they have had negative health consequences on our youth. CDC is prepared to work with K-12 schools to safely reopen while protecting the most vulnerable.”

The CDC guidelines come as President Trump has pressured communities to reopen their schools. Although public health experts and doctors agree that returning to classrooms is vital for children, it must be done cautiously with concrete strategies based on scientific evidence.

In “hot spots” of the virus, reopening schools may not even be possible. Here’s a look at some communities that have been fighting back against government plans to reopen schools.

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Florida Teachers Union

Florida’s largest teachers union sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over his order to reopen schools. The Florida Education Association accused the Florida government of violating a state constitutional mandate to keep public schools “safe and secure.” The suit was filed as cases have surged in Florida––the state now averages roughly 11,000 new cases per day which is the highest rate in the nation.

Massachusetts Teachers Union

Members of the three major teachers unions in Massachusetts attacked the state and federal push to reopen schools this fall. The unions advocate for a phased reopening plan with increased protective equipment for educators.

“We are at a turning point,” Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy said. “If we move too fast and if we open schools physically too soon, we put everything in jeopardy.”

Philadelphia delays reopening plan

Philadelphia principals, teachers, parents, and students blasted the reopening plan from Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. on an eight-plus hour virtual school board meeting. Hite’s plan would mean most children would have in-person classes two days a week or a 100% virtual option. Community members cautioned against in-person classes, saying it would not keep children and staff safe, and many advocated for classes to be fully online.

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What’s next?

A growing amount of educators, parents, and students, along with public health officials, speak out against reopening plans including those in Texas and California which are seeing major rises in cases.

Dr. Tina Tan, a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University, said in a conference call hosted by the Infectious Disease Society of America, “When you have such surges of disease in the community, you’re basically asking for trouble if you open schools, because you’re bringing in individuals from all across the community that potentially may be exposed to it.”

Read more about the rising cases of coronavirus across the country and protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information about the virus.

Sign this petition to delay the reopening of schools in “hot spot” areas.

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