cdc-not-changing-school-guidance-amid-delta-spread,-walensky-says

Federal health guidance issued to help schools navigate reopenings and reduce COVID-19 transmission in classrooms, including universal masking regardless of vaccination status and layered mitigation steps, won’t be changed amid the spread of the delta variant, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said during a White House briefing Friday.

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“We are not looking at updating our school guidance right now, I can tell you that most of the places where we’re seeing surges and outbreaks are in places that are not implementing our current guidance,” Walensky told reporters during a virtual briefing.

A new report issued in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report highlighted the increased risk of COVID-19 infection due to the delta variant in one California elementary school; an outbreak of some 27 identified cases occurred after an unvaccinated teacher who tested positive for COVID-19, and experienced symptoms read aloud to an indoor class without wearing a mask despite school masking requirements. Study authors emphasized the importance of vaccinating school staff while younger kids remain ineligible for shots as schools reopen.

She noted current COVID-related hospitalization rates among children are similar to prior surges, (0.43 per 100,000 versus 0.3 last seen in January) but the number of absolute cases are climbing. CDC-compiled data indicate pediatric COVID-19-related hospitalizations have hit all-time highs in the U.S., with the most recent figures from the CDC reporting over 50,660 admissions through the month of August thus far. 

UNVACCINATED INDIVIDUALS ARE 29 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE HOSPITALIZED FROM COVID-19, CDC SAYS

The current 7-day average, calculated for the week of Aug. 17-Aug. 23, is about 309 daily hospital admissions among Americans ages 0-17 with confirmed COVID-19 marking a peak high. The number marks an 11.4% increase from the prior 7-day average of 277. 

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Walensky reaffirmed the safe reopening of schools in districts following recommendations of layered prevention strategies like vaccinating all those eligible, universal mask use, cohorting, ventilation and screening strategies and hand hygiene.

“The cases [from the community] are not propagated in the schools and schools tend to be safer places for our children than the communities in terms of COVID spread,” Walensky said.

Fox News’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.

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