Just when we'd hoped to put the pandemic behind us, health officials say the new Delta variant combined with a significant number of people who have yet to be vaccinated is causing changes in the recommendations for students for the start of the 2021 school year.

The Center For Disease Control had already issued some guidelines, stressing the importance for kids to be back in classrooms. They included:

  • Schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.
  • Screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
  • Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care.
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Early on, wearing a mask was recommended for all students 2 and older who had not yet been fully vaccinated. However, this week the CDC altered that recommendation:

Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.

So, while parents may be relieved that the recommendation is still to have students back in classrooms, having everyone wear masks may cause some frustrations.

Our media partners at WDIO-TV are reporting that the recommendations from the CDC are not falling on deaf ears in Minnesota. In fact, Minnesota Health Officials are recommending that school across the state follow these new guidelines.

With Minnesota hospitalizations doubling over the past two weeks alone, one could easily assume these guidelines will continue to evolve if this trend in COVID-19 cases does not slow back down.

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