The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that schools can safely open as long as a range of precautions are in place.
The health authority presented a road map for a return to classrooms, most of which have been shuttered for nearly a year.
In making its recommendation, the CDC cited a growing body of evidence that in-person schools can operate safely. Elementary schools can partially open, the agency says. If weekly testing is in place, it says, middle and high schools can as well.
The CDC reiterated that states should prioritize teachers for vaccination, but this is not a prerequisite for reopening.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday, “We’re trying to not get into the emotion of it but provide the scientific basis for how it can be done safely.”
According to reports, teachers unions, which have resisted district plans to return to buildings, generally welcomed the guidelines as offering a workable road map.
The CDC also issued a 35-page strategy guide for the safe operating of schools and an 11-page review of the science.
The agency likewise highlighted five mitigation strategies, saying they all help prevent virus transmission but are more effective if used together.
The CDC stressed that it is still mandatory to use masks for students, teachers and staffers.
Walensky noted that most school-based transmission has occurred when masks have not been worn.