Posted: February 12, 2021

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Friday released new guidelines about the safe delivery of in-person instruction at K-12 schools. The U.S. Department of Education also issued a plain-language companion to the CDC guidance.

It’s the first new school-specific guidance issued by the CDC during the Biden administration, and it has been eagerly awaited by families and educators who want to get physically back to in-person learning as soon as possible, as safely as possible.

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said, “Compared to a lot of mainland states where they’re not vaccinating teachers in a priority group, it’s very different here in Hawaii and we’re much closer to making sure it’s safer.”

NEA President Becky Pringle said, “Schools should be the safest place in any community. Now that we have clear CDC guidance, state and local decision-makers need to be able to look educators, students, and parents in the eyes and ensure that they are safe with full confidence.”

Five essential strategies

The guidance calls for layering five mitigation strategies that are essential to safely delivering in-person instruction. All five measures must be in place “to provide the greatest level of protection,” the CDC said.

  1. Requiring the “universal and correct use of masks” by everyone in all settings;
  2. Strictly enforcing physical distancing of at least six feet if community transmission rates are substantial or high and to “the greatest extent possible” where rates are lower;
  3. Requiring hand-washing and respiratory etiquette and providing the necessary supplies and training;
  4. Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, which includes disinfection and ventilation; and
  5. Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine.

The HSTA continues to advocate for members to ensure the best mitigation strategies are being used in our schools. All of the above are topics included in our contractual agreement for COVID-19 and/or continue to be topics HSTA will advocate on in the weeks and months to come.

More information on the CDC announcement can be found here.

NEA’s article calling the CDC standards “a good first step” can be found here.