July 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released guidelines for schools to reopen in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, placing emphasis on in-person lessons.
Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the CDC, tweeted out the guidelines Thursday, stating school closures have not only disrupted normal ways of life but have also had negative health consequences on youth.
"It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall," he said. "CDC resources will help parents, teachers and administrators make practical safety-focused decisions as this school year begins."
The CDC argues that schools not only support learning but also help mitigate health disparities by providing critical services, such as school meal programs and social, physical, behavioral and mental health services. Keeping schools closed, it said, disrupts children from receiving these supports.
The guidelines also state that data shows children appear to be at a lower risk of contracting the deadly and infectious coronavirus compared to adults and those who do contract it generally suffer from less serious illness.
Among children, adolescents between the ages of 10-17 appear more likely to contract the virus, but they "do not appear to be at higher risk of developing severe illness," it said.
Concerning community transmission of the virus following schools reopening, the CDC said evidence "is mixed" as some countries that restarted academics saw cases increase while others experienced a drop in infections.
The CDC said that while opening schools does pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 they play a role in the wellbeing of communities and provide critical instruction and academic support as well as support students' social, emotional and mental health.
"Schools are an important part of the infrastructure of communities, and they provide safe, supportive learning environments for students, employ teachers and other staff, and enable parents, guardians and caregivers to work," the CDC said in the guidelines. "The unique and critical role that schools play makes them a priority for opening and remaining open, enabling students to receive both academic instruction and support as well as critical services."
The guidelines suggest schools coordinate with local public health officials to stay informed about transmission of the virus in their communities, prepare for potential COVID-19 cases and to maintain regular communication with families, staff and other community partners.