Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness

February 13, 2021

Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation Executive Summary



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The CDC released new guidelines for reopening K-12 schools for in-person learning, noting that evidence suggests that many K-12 schools that have strictly implemented mitigation strategies have been able to open safely for in-person instruction and remain open. 

In addition to recommending specific disease prevention measures, the guidelines include the following statements: (1) K–12 schools should be the last settings to close after all other mitigation measures in the community have been employed, and the first to reopen when they can do so safely. Schools should be prioritized for reopening and remaining open for in-person instruction over nonessential businesses and activities. (2) In-person instruction should be prioritized over extracurricular activities including sports and school events. (3) Lower incidence of COVID-19 among younger children compared to teenagers suggests that younger students are likely to have less risk of in-school transmission due to in-person learning than older students. (4) Families of students who are at increased risk of severe illness should be given the option of virtual instruction regardless of the mode of learning offered. (5) Schools are encouraged to use cohorting or podding of students. (6) Schools that serve populations at risk for learning loss during virtual instruction should be prioritized for reopening. (7) When implementing phased mitigation in hybrid learning modes, schools should consider prioritizing in-person instruction for students with disabilities who may require special education and related services directly provided in school environments.

CDC. (Feb 12, 2021). Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation Executive Summary.