TAMPA, Fla. — Health experts have been clear: K-12 students benefit from in-person learning. And, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says getting kids back in class again this fall is a "priority."
But, the evolving pandemic means updated guidance for what medical professionals say that should look like.
By the end of July, the highly contagious delta variant (and its sub-lineages) accounted for more than 93 percent of all coronavirus cases in the United States.
Florida is feeling the weight of COVID-19, which was responsible for 12,888 hospitalizations, as of Aug. 5. At least 135 of the people hospitalized were children – outpacing other states.
Because none of the three COVID-19 vaccines that have emergency use authorization in the U.S. are currently cleared for children under 12, there are concerns about a rise in pediatric cases.
As a result of current information, the CDC is recommending universal indoor mask use at schools.
While not mandated by the state of Florida, face coverings should be worn by visitors, teachers, staff and any students 2 or older – no matter if they've been vaccinated or not, the CDC says.
The CDC also recommends schools allow for at least three feet of social distancing among students in classrooms. Districts should also consider deploying multiple prevention strategies. Those may include screening testing, ventilation techniques, more frequent hand-washing, contact tracing, and cleaning and disinfection – among other things.
If your child feels sick, keep them home. If they have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, they shouldn't be in school.
And, anyone (even someone fully-vaccinated) who is exposed to a person with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case should be tested 3-5 days after exposure. The CDC says that should be done regardless of if that person has symptoms.
Parents, we know there's a lot to digest. So, the CDC has created a 4-page checklist that may help you plan for a return to in-person learning. You can find the complete checklist below. If you can't view it, click here.