UPPER DELAWARE REGION — As parents worry about the highly transmissible Delta variant but want their kids back in school, decisions have generally been left in the hands of individual school districts.
The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidance, and schools in the region have been using it.
In New York, the issue has become embroiled in politics.
The state’s health department was instructed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to leave the decision-making to individual school districts, but education commissioner Betty Rosa asked health commissioner Howard Zucker to weigh in anyway. It is, she said, the department’s job. (Her letter is posted on the New York State education department’s Twitter account.)
The health department hadn’t responded at presstime.
Pennsylvania districts are also following the CDC. Noe Ortega, the state education secretary, pointed readers to the department’s What’s New page for updates on COVID-19 and schools.
So what is the CDC advising?
First, the agency says, students benefit from being in school. “Safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority.”
Vaccination is the way to end the pandemic, they say. Children are not yet eligible, but youth aged 12 and up can get the Pfizer shot. For younger kids, schools have to rely on “layered” prevention, using handwashing, ventilation, and other strategies at the same time.
Universal indoor masking is recommended for everyone in school, aged two and up. Three feet of social distancing is also suggested.
Everyone should stay home when they’re sick.
Districts should monitor community transmission, vaccination rates, testing and outbreaks to determine what they need to do going forward.
“These measures,” Ortega said on Twitter, “will help ensure students + staff experience a safe return to in-person teaching + learning this fall.”