KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When and how to re-open schools and return students to in-person learning has been at the center of debate for months.
“I want to be clear, with the release of this operational strategy, CDC is not mandating that schools reopen," Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Friday, the CDC stated it does not have the authority to mandate schools reopen, but it did provide recommendations on how to do so safely.
“CDC specifically recommends 5 key layered mitigation strategies," Walensky said.
The CDC recommends masks, social-distancing, hand washing, cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities and contact tracing in collaboration with local health departments.
“These recommendations simply provide schools a long needed road map for how to do so safely under different levels of disease in the community," Walensky said.
Districts like the Kansas City Kansas Public Schools have plans to return to in-person learning in April.
“We’re looking at an April 5th return date and that would be for in-person learning. That would be for much larger groups of students," Stephen Linkous, Chief of Staff for KCKPS, said.
Currently, the district is in the process of having staff vaccinated, although it is not a requirement.
“We’re in the process at the moment where a large number of our staff have done the first round of the shots, and they should be going back within the next few weeks to get round two," Linkous said.
KCKPS is on track to re-open in April and credits the efforts of Wyandotte County's vaccine roll-out.
The district says masks, social distancing and temperature checks are just a few of the safety measures being put in place.
As more schools look to bring students back into the building, the CDC says districts can do so safely without vaccinating all students and staff members, but that it would serve as an extra layer of protection.