CDC head sticking to school-opening guides Trump criticized

CDC head sticking to school-opening guides Trump criticized

ATLANTA — Federal health officials won’t revise their coronavirus guidelines for reopening schools despite criticism from President Donald Trump, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. What they will do, he said, is provide additional information to help states, communities and parents decide what to do and when.

“Our guidelines are our guidelines,” Dr. Robert Redfield declared.

In draft CDC documents obtained by The Associated Press, the agency says there are steps that schools can take to safely reopen but that it “cannot provide one-size-fits-all criteria for opening and closing schools or changing the way schools are run.”

“Decisions about how to open and run schools safely should be made based on local needs and conditions,” the documents say.

They also include a checklist that encourages parents to carefully consider whether they should send their kids back to school in person or seek virtual instruction. Many districts nationwide are offering parents a choice of either mode of instruction. New York City, among other school districts, has announced that students will only return part-time in the fall.

That runs counter to Trump’s messaging. He has been repeatedly pressuring state and local officials to reopen schools this fall, even threatening to withhold federal funds from those that keep teaching and learning remote.

Trump on Wednesday criticized the CDC’s guidelines as “very tough and expensive” and said the agency was “asking schools to do very impractical things.” Speaking of CDC officials, he tweeted, “I will be meeting with them!!!” And Vice-President Mike Pence said revised guidelines would be issued next week.

But in an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Redfield firmly stuck to the existing CDC guidelines.

“It’s really important, it’s not a revision of the guidelines, it’s just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance that we put forward.”

Asked about the apparent discrepancy between Redfield’s and Pence’s statements, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said they were on the same page. She said “supplemental guidelines” would be forthcoming.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said that schools will be failing kids if they don’t provide full-time, in-person instruction.

But the draft CDC documents, which have yet to be released publicly, say decisions like that should be left to local officials. They say, “Each school and each community will have different needs and should implement the strategies best designed to meet them.”

The documents say that in-person schooling will lead to at least some infections but that there are steps schools can take to lessen the risk.

A graph of the CDC’s disease modeling indicates there’s likely to be significantly more virus spread if all students attend school five days a week. The graph projects alternate schedules could cut infections by as much as 80%, although the agency acknowledges there is much more to learn about the disease.

“Scientists are still learning about how it spreads, how it impacts children and what role children may play in its spread,” the introduction to the parent checklist states.

Redfield said the upcoming reference documents in part would cover how to monitor for symptoms and use face masks in schools.

The CDC’s current guidance recommends that students and teachers wear masks whenever feasible, spread out desks, stagger schedules, eat meals in classrooms instead of the cafeteria and add physical barriers between bathroom sinks.

When asked about the documents AP obtained, CDC spokesman Benjamin Haynes wrote in an email that the agency would distribute additional guidance next week and pointed to what has already been released.

The White House declined to comment on the documents.

The 30-question parent checklist asks about a child’s health, use of special education services, comfort with local school plans and whether parents can facilitate at-home learning. It warns that if parents check multiple items on the “stay-at-home” column, that “could be an indicator that your family should consider alternative learning formats other than in-person schooling.”

The checklist says parents should evaluate school district plans, including how districts are “preparing for when someone gets sick.”

“If your child, members of your household, or individuals with whom you interact frequently are at increased risk for severe illness, the best way to reduce risk of getting sick is to limit your interaction with other people,” it states.

In his tweet on Wednesday, Trump did not clarify which of the CDC guidelines he opposed. But McEnany said, for example, that the president takes issue with the CDC’s suggestion that students bring their own meals to school when feasible.

“There are 22 million children in this country who depend on these meals at schools, who depend on access to nutrition in schools,” she said.

Democrats have warned Trump to keep out of the CDC’s work. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, ranking Democrat on the Education Committee, said the agency needs to be trusted to make decisions based on scientific evidence, “not on President Trump’s Twitter outbursts.”

___

Feldman reported from Washington.

Jeff Amy And Carole Feldman, The Associated Press

Coronavirus

Just Posted

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Most Read