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CDC Has New Guidance For How Kids Should Return To Schools This Fall

Chicago Public Schools will see students return Aug. 30. The CDC is saying everyone who's unvaccinated should wear masks in schools.

Students attend class at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School during the first day of in-person learning for high school students on April 19, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — More changes are coming to schools as federal officials on Friday issued updated guidance on masking and distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls for schools to fully reopen, but it suggests local districts be allowed to craft COVID-19 safety policies that fit the needs of their communities. Among the CDC’s recommendations: Students should still be kept 3 feet apart if possible and people are wearing masks, and unvaccinated students, faculty and staff should wear masks.

The guidance suggests schools still reopen even if they can’t keep students socially distant, but it says districts should employ “layered” safety methods — like using testing, masking and screening — to ensure people stay safe. People who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks.

The updated recommendations got mixed reviews from scientific experts, according to The New York Times.

Chicago Public Schools did not immediately react to the updated guidance, but district and city leaders have said there will be full-time, in-person school for most students come this fall.

Chicago’s school district has used guidance from the CDC and from the state to form its reopening rules. The Chicago Teachers Union has pushed for event more stringent safety measures to keep faculty and students safe.

CPS and the CTU have locked horns over reopening. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS leaders have said it’s necessary because students — particularly Black and Latino children — have struggled with remote learning. In the CDC’s updated guidance Friday, the federal agency said all-remote learning has been challenging for many children.

The CTU has said reopening when kids 11 and younger can’t yet be vaccinated and COVID-19 is still spreading is a risk for children and communities.

Children 12 and older are now eligible to be vaccinated in Chicago and throughout Illinois, though they can only get Pfizer doses.

The first day of the fall semester is Aug. 30 for CPS students.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 6.2 million people of all ages — or 49.17 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 17,239 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 12,768,842 vaccine doses of the 14,319,815 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.35 million Chicagoans — or 50.6 percent of all residents — have gotten fully vaccinated. About 56.5 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Eight Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Thursday.

• At least 23,297 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,458 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 645 cases since Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,395,497.

• Since Thursday, 41,037 tests were reported statewide. In all, 26,064,549 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 1.5 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 1.4 percent Thursday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 1.7 percent. It was also at 1.6 percent Thursday.

• As of Thursday night, 91 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 35 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, one death was reported since Thursday. There have been at least 5,482 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of less than one death per day, down from an average of one per day the week prior.

• Chicago has had 87 confirmed cases reported since Thursday. It’s had a total of 286,443 confirmed cases. An average of 40 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 21 percent increase from the week prior.

• At the same time, testing has decreased 40 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at .9 percent, up from .4 percent the week prior.

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