CDC 'never recommended ... that schools close,' says senior administration official

'We didn’t feel that was really an effective public-health strategy that needed to be operationalized,' explained the official, who noted, 'It's really critically important to get our schools open.'

Updated: July 7, 2020 - 4:53pm

President Trump is leading a White House roundtable Tuesday with teachers, administrators and students to discuss the reopening of classrooms in keeping with coronavirus guidelines, arguing that schools may have been overly cautious in their shutdown approaches.

"It's really critically important to get our schools open," a senior administration official told reporters prior to the afternoon roundtable. "I think it’s worth noting that CDC, actually, in its guidances, we never recommended through the pandemic – in March, April, and May – that actually that schools close. Those were local-jurisdictional decisions that were made. We do believe there are a variety of strategies that schools can adopt that really minimize the risk, and then can open these schools quite safely. And I think that’s really the intent here."

The official said that reason that the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention never recommended school closures was that, "We didn’t feel that was really an effective public-health strategy that needed to be operationalized." 

In a CDC report issued earlier this year, the agency stated: "There is a role for school closure in response to school-based cases of COVID-19 for decontamination and contact tracing (few days of closure), in response to significant absenteeism of staff and students (short to medium length, i.e. 2-4 weeks of closure), or as part of a larger community mitigation strategy for jurisdictions with substantial community spread (medium to long length, i.e. 4-8 weeks or more of closure)."

Administration officials said they wanted to implement a "holistic" approach to re-opening schools that would also ensure the safety of the community, particularly those at risk for COVID-19 infection.

The administration Tuesday afternoon will also host Dr. Sally Goza from the American Academy Of Pediatrics, who is expected to share perspective on an AAP report released about a week ago.

“The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school,” the AAP reported stated.
 
The White House will also host a panel with Health and Human Services Secretary Azar and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that will be led by Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force team. 

A senior administration official also noted that schools received more than $13 billion to help them respond to the COVID-19 situation, as part of the virus-related, federal spending measure known as the CARES Act. 

That funding was highly flexible in its uses, whether to support provision of distance education and remote learning services, or to maintain the continuity of services in the physical building.

The administration also noted that state, local, and tribal leaders received about $150 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund that also are flexible dollars that can be prioritized in ways that recipients deem best use. 

"We’re going to provide folks with resources – both the dollars that we’ve referenced, but also help identify best practices, which the CDC has done, but also other organizations have done as well – to make sure that this can be done safely moving forward," a senior administration official told Just the News.

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