What the CDC’s new guidelines mean for schools

Local News

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The Centers for Disease Control And Prevention is focusing on re-opening schools and keeping them open in its latest guidelines. First News at Nine’s Maria Blough shares what the new guidance means for one local school district.

According to the evidence seen so far, the CDC says in-person learning at K through 12 schools is not a main cause for the transmission of COVID-19 in a community. That’s one reason it says it’s important for these schools to be open.

Overall, this new set of guidelines recommends the same protocols schools have been using throughout the pandemic.

For the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District, that means keeping up what they already have in place. Kerrie Smithberg is a school nurse with the district. She says this is reassuring.

Smithsberg said, “Our practices have been working and that’s what we’re doing. When we do have a case in our school setting, we do contract tracing. We try to limit the amount of movement in the school, so if we do have a positive case that we have a limited number of students that are involved.”

To the CDC, the two most important policies for schools to safely open is mask-wearing and social distancing, which Chippewa Falls is doing.

When it’s not possible to distance students the recommended 6 feet, it’s using a cohort method.

“If we weren’t able to do that, to keep our students in cohorts or small groups so if we did have a positive case in the school, we would limit our contact tracing,” said Smithsberg.

Right now, the school district is holding in-person classes Monday through Thursday with virtual learning on Friday.

Smithberg hopes within a few months, students in the district will be able to learn at school all week long.

Maria Blough, First News at Nine.

The CDC recommends teachers get vaccinated as soon as they can.  At the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District, around 87 percent of staff members are ready to get the vaccine once they’re eligible Smithberg says. The Wisconsin Department Of Health Services estimates that will happen around March 1.

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