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What to know about returning to school in the fall under new public health guidelines

What to know about returning to school in the fall under new public health guidelines
July 23, 2021 SEHD Communications

What to know about returning to school in the fall under new public health guidelines

New guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday is urging K-12 schools to continue to use masks for both the unvaccinated and vaccinated.

It echoes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s June 9 revised guidance for K-12 schools as they prepare to welcome students back in the fall after a year of remote and hybrid learning.

Some of the CDC’s guidance also includes promoting the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone eligible, 3-foot social distancing, and safety for school workers.

The updates come as the Delta variant, a more easily transmitted variant of COVID-19, now makes up 33.3% of cases over the last two weeks in Region 6 of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which includes Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Dr. Meagan Shipley, a clinical associate professor of school and health education in the Department of Health & Kinesiology, says areas with low vaccination rates are experiencing surges of infections and explains what that means for local communities. 

“It is important for everyone to remain cautious and continue taking proper safety precautions to protect themselves and others,” Shipley says. “I would caution everyone to be flexible and open-minded as variants emerge in communities across the country.”

Why students should return to school 

The CDC says a return to in-person learning environments is important and schools should reopen even if they are unable to meet all social distancing and COVID-19 guidelines. 

It’s important to acknowledge and validate the wide range of emotions parents and teachers are experiencing as they prepare to make decisions, Shipley says.

 “The emotional, social and academic benefits of children attending in-person school are well documented and vaccinations remain the best intervention strategy available for keeping children in schools,” Shipley says.

She says frequent updates and guidance from public health officials can be overwhelming and offers advice for preparing to re-enter public spaces such as schools and workplaces.

“It is important to utilize valid and reliable health resources to ensure they are accessing credible health information,” Shipley says. “Some trusted health resources I recommend include the AAP, the American School Health Association, the American Medical Association and the CDC.” 

What to do to keep classrooms safe

She says continuing to wash hands with soap and water, social distancing and sanitizing workspaces and homes remain best practices as the cold and flu season during the winter months approach.

“The health behaviors recommended by public health professionals for decades, but even more so in the past 18 months, remain of utmost importance,” Shipley says. “These layered safety measures not only help prevent COVID-19 transmission but also decrease the likelihood of catching a cold or the flu as the fall/winter seasons emerge.”

Shipley says as “normal” in-person schedules return, it is important to keep childrens’ and educators’ safety and protection in mind. 


About the Writer

Justin is a native of Harlingen, the capital city of the Rio Grande Valley in Deep South Texas. He graduated in 2021 from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in Print Journalism. Justin is responsible for writing news and feature stories for the College and its various departments to be featured via the web, social media, and various other media outlets.

Articles by Justin

For media inquiries, contact Justin Elizalde.

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