Coronavirus: CDC internal documents warn that full school reopening is “most at risk,” reports The New York Times

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The Times’ 69-page document “For internal use only” was among the documents for federal public health response teams deployed to coronavirus hotspots to help local public health officials manage the epidemic, the newspaper reported.

The document was distributed this week, the Times reported, as Trump criticized the CDC’s guidelines for reopening schools and he, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos increased their pressure on schools to reopen completely by fall.

It is not clear if the president saw the CDC document, according to the Times.

CNN has contacted the CDC and the White House and has yet to receive a response.

The revelation of the documents comes as States debate the reopening of schools in a context of resurgence of cases of coronavirus. Many school districts in the South, where coronavirus cases are increasing, begin the school year in a few weeks.

The document, mainly made up of CDC documents already available to the public, mentions plans for the reopening of states, districts and individual schools and universities, identifying certain proposals as being in line with CDC guidelines and criticizing “notable gaps” in d ‘other plans, the Times reported.

Trump criticized the CDC’s guidelines for the safe reopening of schools on Wednesday as “very difficult” and “expensive”. He wrote on Twitter on Friday that “schools must be open in the fall,” arguing that virtual learning is “TERRIBLE” compared to learning in the classroom or on campus.

Trump also threatened to cut federal funding for schools and universities that would not reopen, although he has no power to do so unilaterally. Most of the funding for public schools – about 90% – comes from state and local governments, while federal funding goes to disadvantaged, low-income, and special education students across the country.

At a White House task force briefing on Wednesday, Pence announced that the CDC will issue new guidelines for reopening schools next week because “we just don’t want the guidelines to be too much strict ”.

He and the CDC director, task force member Dr. Robert Redfield, said the agency’s recommendations should not be seen as a barrier to the return of children to the classroom.

Redfield then insisted in media interviews and CNN city hall on the coronavirus on Thursday that the CDC would not issue new guidelines or change the guidelines.

“I can tell you that the advice we are putting in place is available and that it continues,” Redfield told Anderson Cooper of CNN.

Redfield said the CDC plans to expand the guidelines by releasing additional documents and tools related to the school reopening, which he said Pence referred to in his comments.

“But at the end of the day, these tips are just that – they are tips, which local schools and districts must then incorporate into a practical and real plan that they can operationalize to start bringing these young people back to the ‘school. safely, “said Redfield.

CDC guidelines for kindergarten to grade 12 schools encourage hygiene, the use of cloth coverings, and homecare, if necessary. It also suggests staggered timetables, a plan for staffing emergency personnel, modified seating arrangements to allow social distance, physical barriers and the closure of common areas.

Current guidelines, last updated in May, indicate that the “lowest risk” setting for the spread of Covid-19 is only virtual learning options, while listing classes at full size. in person who lack social distance as a parameter of “highest risk”.

CNN’s Betsy Klein and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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