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STATEWIDE — The CDC has released new guidelines on how schools can plan to reopen for the upcoming school year while also being mindful of the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency is broad in its guidelines separating them into low-risk, moderate-risk, and high-risk recommendations for reopening schools. Within these guidelines they talk about promoting “behaviors that reduce spread” from how to serve food to students, keeping classrooms clean, teachers wearing personal protective equipment, etc. They also give recommendations on what to do in the event a student or teacher contracts coronavirus during the school year.

“Schools can determine, in collaboration with state and local health officials to the extent possible, whether and how to implement these considerations while adjusting to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local community,” the agency said in the guidelines.

Dr. Sarah Stelzner, a pediatrician with Eskenazi Health, told Dan Dakich on 107.5 The Fan she feels schools should be able to open to in-person classes later this year. She recommends starting earlier in the summer than schools normally do.

“Then maybe closing at Thanksgiving,” Stelzner said. “During that time when we know, there’s lots of flu and some worry that maybe COVID could make a little bit of a resurgence. Kids can be at home and families can prepare for that.”

Stelzner said if all is well during an extended Thanksgiving/Christmas break, students could then return as normal in January for the second semester.

“Through it all, maybe doing modified school days or modified school weeks,” Stelzner added. “A lot of virtual education as well will be the magic mix.”

The CDC is careful to clarify in their recommendations that their guidelines DO NOT replace state and county mandates on reopening schools. They say schools must comply with whatever state education leaders and local governments say.