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CDC expected to ease Covid-19 recommendations, including for schools, starting this week

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A preview of the plans obtained by CNN shows the updated recommendations are expected to relax quarantine recommendations for those exposed to the virus and reduce the 6-foot social distance.

The agency should also reduce the importance of regular testing for Covid-19 in schools as a way to monitor the spread of the virus, according to sources who were briefed on the agency’s plans but were not authorized. to talk to a reporter. Instead, he says it may be more useful to base testing on community levels of Covid-19 and whether settings are higher risk, such as nursing homes or prisons.

The changes, which could be made public as early as this week, were previewed to educators and public health officials. They are still under discussion and are not final.

In a statement to CNN, the agency said, “The CDC is always evaluating our guidance as the science changes and will update the public as it does.”

As part of expected changes, the CDC would also soon remove a recommendation that students exposed to Covid-19 take regular testing to stay in class. The strategy, called “test to stay,” was recommended by the agency in December, during the first Omicron wave, to keep unvaccinated children who were exposed but did not show symptoms in the classroom at the instead of quarantining them at home.

The test to stay was resource-intensive for schools, and some districts had expressed concerns about having enough money to continue, a source said.

In schools and beyond, the agency will no longer recommend staying at least 6 feet from other people as a protective measure. Instead, the new guidelines aim to help people understand which types of environments are riskier than others due to factors such as poor ventilation, crowds and personal characteristics such as age and underlying health.

The CDC is also set to relax quarantine requirements for people who are unvaccinated or not up to date on their Covid-19 vaccines. Currently, the agency recommends people who are not up to date on their vaccines stay home for at least five days after close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. Going forward, they will no longer have to stay home but will have to wear a mask and test for at least five days after exposure.

Most US public schools plan to keep masks optional for start of class

People with Covid-19 should always self-isolate, the agency is expected to say.

The agency also plans to re-emphasize the importance of building ventilation as a way to help stop the spread of many respiratory diseases, not just Covid-19. He plans to encourage schools to do more to clean and freshen their indoor air.

Sources say the adjustments reflect both changing public sentiment toward the pandemic — many Americans have stopped wearing masks or social distancing — and a high level of underlying immunity in the population. Screening of blood samples suggests that in December 95% of Americans had Covid-19 or were vaccinated against it, reducing the chances of becoming seriously ill or dying if they catch it again.

CDC recommendations are not legally binding. Many cities, states, and school districts will look at them, but ultimately may follow different strategies.

Masks in schools are an example.

More than 200 million people – about 60% of the total population – live in a county with a “high community level of Covid-19” where the CDC warns of a risk of strain on the health system and recommends masking universal interior.
Still, most schools kept masks optional for students this year. Of the top 500 K-12 school districts, based on enrollment, about 98% don’t need masks, according to school policy tracker from data firm Burbio.

Still, the agency’s guidance continues to be important as a benchmark. When cities or states try to go beyond what the CDC recommends, they may face pushbacks.