with rigorous mask policies are seeing fewer COVID-19 outbreaks, according to two new studies by the CDC. One study found that schools where all staff members were required to wear masks had a 10% reduction in cases of the virus. The other study showed that at schools with no restrictions on masks, there was an 18% increase in cases of COVID-19 compared to last year. This is not surprising given how easily it can spread through droplets from coughing or sneezing. The virus is also resistant to most common disinfectants, making it further difficult to control.
The CDC currently recommends that schools with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases should take the following steps:
• Impose a mask requirement on all school staff and visitors
• Send home ill students as soon as they are diagnosed. Keep them out of school until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications (acetaminophen or ibuprofen).
• Ask students with suspected COVID-19 infections to remain home at least 24 hours after their fever subsides (without medication)
• Stop sharing eating, drinking and smoking utensils. Also, don’t have students share clothes, towels or bedding
The CDC urges schools to consider these measures at a minimum until the outbreak is over. They advise that all students and staff using a school’s facilities should be required to wear masks during peak cold and flu season (October 1 – March 31). The CDC also stressed the importance of informing parents to seek medical help if their child has a fever.
The studies are being published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Health officials have announced that COVID-19 is now widespread across the United States. The virus causes severe, flu-like symptoms within two days of exposure, including high fever, septic shock, and death. The spread of the virus has been accelerated by a recent mutation that makes it resistant to most vaccines and anti-virals. In another twist, it also causes pregnant women to give birth to stillborn babies or those with extreme deformities. The CDC recently released a list of schools where the virus has been reported at least once. Parents are urged to avoid sending their children to the following schools:
Stanwich Elementary in Greenwich, CT
The Riverside Academy for Girls in Chicago, IL
Aleph Bet Jewish Day School in Paramus, NJ
Two unconfirmed outbreaks have also been reported at Leyden Middle School and Franklin Central High School in Indianapolis. The number of COVID-19 cases is expected to rise sharply over the next few weeks.
Teachers are calling on schools across the United States to enforce mandatory mask policies for their students and staff members, in order to halt the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC, said that while wearing a mask is not “required,” it would certainly be beneficial during this time of crisis. She went on to say that schools should not allow students who are infected with the virus to attend school until they have been fever-free for 24 hours.
It has also been suggested that all schools expand their existing handwashing programs, if they do not already have one in place. With COVID-19 being resistant to most common disinfectants, it is extremely important to make sure that the hands of students, teachers and staff members are thoroughly cleaned.
Dr. Schuchat also advised that schools ban sharing eating utensils, drinking cups and smoking paraphernalia, as well as avoid having students share clothes, towels or bedding. This will ensure the virus doesn’t spread any further. Currently, there is no vaccine or FDA-approved drug that can combat COVID-19. However, the CDC has been working tirelessly to find a solution for this devastating pandemic. The agency is currently conducting human trials on a new experimental antiviral medication.