New White House recommendations encourage mask use in schools, but don’t require it

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Presidential Counsel Kellyanne Conway speaks at the “Safe Returning American Children to School” event in the State Room of the White House in Washington, DC on August 12. Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP

The White House has released eight new recommendations for U.S. schools as they prepare to reopen – but the recommendations are little more than basic hygiene advice and don’t spell out what to do if they are faced with cases of coronavirus in their hallways.

The general recommendations are similar to coronavirus mitigation efforts across the country and are not particularly specific to schools.

The “General Recommendations for All Schools,” which was released during President Donald Trump’s daily coronavirus press conference, focus on what students and teachers should do to try to protect people when go back to class.

Recommendations include ensuring that students and staff “understand the symptoms of COVID-19” and require that “all students, teachers and staff self-assess their health each morning before going to school. school ”.
The recommendations also encourage the use of masks, but do not require students, teachers or staff to wear them. They also “force students, teachers and staff to socially distance themselves from those at high risk,” but it’s unclear how schools will go about it.

Trump said, “We are also providing teachers and high-risk students with options to engage in distance education and learning.”

The president said one of the reasons he wanted students to return to school is that there are very few deaths among young Americans.

“University-age students also continue to be one of the most at-risk demographic groups,” Trump said. He also claimed that most Covid-19 related deaths “occur in people over the age of 24”.

This new list released by the White House echoes much of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included in its guidelines for reopening schools, which contain additional details.

Trump also said CDC teams can be deployed to schools that need help with their plans to reopen.

Earlier Wednesday, Presidential Counsel Kellyanne Conway said that despite the resources the federal government will provide, the decision to reopen schools will still have to be made at the local level.

“We are the federal government. We don’t tell school districts what to do. We provide advice and resources, ”said Conway.

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