- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2020

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Thursday denied that his agency will be “revising” existing guidance on how K-12 schools can safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think it’s really important — it’s not a revision of the guidelines — it’s just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance,” Dr. Redfield said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Vice President Mike Pence had said on Wednesday the CDC would be putting out new guidelines next week after President Trump criticized the existing school rules as too cumbersome.

Dr. Redfield said the agency is planning to put out “different reference documents.”

“So our guidelines are our guidelines, but we are going to provide additional reference documents to aid basically communities that are trying to reopen” schools, he said.

Dr. Redfield was asked whether the agency plans to alter any of its existing rules.

The current guidance advises, for example, that students should be spaced at least 6 feet apart and that there shouldn’t be communal spaces.

“I think we have to continue to work with the schools to look [at] the six feet apart, wearing face coverings, social distancing the seating, looking at changes in schedule to have different crowding,” he said.

“As I said, there’s a whole portfolio that the schools can look at to see what’s the right mix for them,” he said. “It was intentionally non-prescriptive.”

Dr. Redfield has said school districts shouldn’t be using the guidelines as an excuse to stay closed.

Tea Party Patriots Action honorary Chairman Jenny Beth Martin said Dr. Redfield’s position is “not good enough.”

“Schools need to reopen in the fall — and the CDC needs to revise its guidelines for that, because, contrary to what Dr. Redfield said, some school districts ARE hiding behind the CDC guidelines as an excuse not to reopen,” she said in a statement. “The current CDC guidelines are ridiculous. They appear to have been written by someone totally unfamiliar with children and their behavior. They are totally unworkable in the real world.”

Mr. Trump said this week he plans to pressure governors to reopen schools in the coming weeks and months and threatened to withhold federal funding to schools that don’t reopen quickly enough.

The White House has floated tying aid for schools in the next federal coronavirus rescue package to school reopening plans, although Democrats — who control the House — have already rejected that idea.

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