CDC to release new safety guidelines for reopening schools (Reports).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release additional guidance next week on how to reopen schools safely, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday during a White House coronavirus task force briefing at the Department of Education.

The guidance, however, is only a recommendation and will not replace state and local decision-making, Pence said.

Recommendations on reopening schools have been available on the agency’s website since mid-May, and more guidance was added last week on COVID-19 testing in schools.

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The briefing Wednesday came only a few hours after President Donald Trump said in a tweet that he disagreed with the CDC’s “very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools.”

During the briefing, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield echoed the task force’s stance on the importance of reopening schools, adding that the agency’s additional guidelines should not be used as a rationale to keep schools closed.

“It’d be very disappointing if individuals were using guidelines for not reopening schools,” Redfield said. The CDC is prepared to work with states and communities to come up with the best strategies to reopen schools, he said.

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Redfield noted that children appear to be less susceptible to the coronavirus.

“Clearly the ability of this virus to cause significant illness in children is very limited,” Redfield said.

However, data on COVID-19 cases in school-age children is also very limited. The task force’s coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, said that children under 10 represent the least-tested age group in the country.

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Birx also raised the issue of how to best test children for the virus, though the CDC’s current guidance leaves the decision to implement any testing strategy up to schools and state and local health officials.

Spit tests, which look for the virus in saliva, would be easier for kids, Birx said. The tests are not yet widely available and it’s unclear whether they will be available for school children in the South who typical start going back to school in August.

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