Transcript for CDC Telebriefing on New Resources and Tools to Support Opening Schools
Friday, July 24, 2020
Please Note: This transcript is not edited and may contain errors.
OPERATOR: WELCOME AND THANK YOU FOR STANDING BY. AT THIS TIME ALL PARTICIPANTS ARE IN LISTEN-ONLY MODE. DURING THE Q&A SESSION IF YOU’D LIKE TO ASK A QUESTION YOU MAY PRESS STAR 1 ON THE PHONE. TODAY’S CALL IS BEING RECORDED. I’D LIKE TO TURN THE CALL OVER TO MR. BEN HAYNES. SIR, YOU MAY BEGIN.
HAYNES: THANK YOU. AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US FOR TODAY’S UPDATE ON CDC’S COVID-19 RESPONSE. WE ARE JOINED BY CDC DIRECTOR DR. ROBERT REDFORD, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, DR. MITCHELL ZAIS, AND Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz, the lead of CDC’s Community Interventions and Critical Populations Task Force on the response. TODAY OUR SPEAKERS WILL Today, our speakers will provide opening remarks and discuss new CDC resources and tools to help schools open safely this fall. At this time, I will turn the call over to Dr. Redfield.
REDFIELD: Last fall more than 55 million students filled the classrooms of elementary, middle, and high schools nationwide. By the end of March this year, those same classrooms were deserted. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all parts of our society, including our school systems. The unique and critical role that schools play makes it a priority to open schools safely this fall and to help them stay open. This will enable students to receive both academic instruction and support, as well as other critical services. In order to prioritize opening schools safely and helping them remain open, we need communities to adopt actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 now. We owe it to our nation’s children to take personal responsibility to do everything we can to lower the levels of COVID-19 so that they can go back to school safely. I understand the trepidation many feel as they think about the upcoming school year. While now is usually a time for finalizing lesson plans, buying school supplies, and figuring out what classes to take, stress and worry may be preventing teachers, parents, and students from taking these steps. The experts here at CDC have been working since March to address these issues – consulting with states, schools, and partners – on how to best get students back in the classroom safely. The resources and tools we are releasing today are intended to help everyone – teachers, students, parents, guardians, caregivers and administrators – get back to school as safely as possible. Now I’d like to turn the call over to Dr. Zais.
ZAIS: GOOD AFTERNOON. I’D LIKE TO THANK CDC FOR HOSTING TODAY’S PRESS CALL AND FOR PROVIDING ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK ON BEHALF OF SECRETARY DeVOS. OUR ENTIRE TEAM HERE AT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, THE PRESIDENT, AND THE VICE PRESIDENT, ARE PROUD TO PARTNER WITH CDC AND PARENTS FROM ACROSS AMERICA TO GET STUDENTS BACK IN THE CLASSROOM THIS FALL.
PRESIDENT TRUMP IS LEADING A GREAT AMERICAN RECOVERY. AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THAT RECOVERY IS GETTING OUR KIDS BACK IN SCHOOL. THE DEFAULT NEEDS TO BE THAT SCHOOLS ARE FULLY OPEN AND OPERATIONAL IN THE FALL SO THAT STUDENTS CAN RESUME FULL-TIME LEARNING. IN AREAS WHERE THERE ARE HOT SPOTS, REMOTE AND DISTANCE LEARNING MIGHT NEED TO BE ADOPTED FOR A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF TIME. BUT THE RESEARCH AND SCIENCE CONTINUE TO SUGGEST THAT IT IS SAFER, HEALTHIER, AND BETTER FOR STUDENTS TO BE IN SCHOOL FULL TIME. IT’S NOT A MATTER OF IF IT SHOULD BE DONE, BUT RATHER HOW IT MUST BE DONE. THE URGENCY IS REAL. PERSONAL ENGAGEMENT BETWEEN TEACHERS AND STUDENTS AND AMONG STUDENTS AND THEIR PEERS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER. TOO MANY GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS ALREADY FAILED THEIR STUDENTS THIS PAST SPRING. IT CAN’T HAPPEN AGAIN THIS FALL. GETTING OUR KIDS BACK IN THE CLASSROOM IS A VITAL STEP IN THE NATIONAL FIGHT TO DEFEAT AN INVISIBLE ENEMY. THUS FAR SECRETARY OF EDUCATION DeVOS AND THE DEPARTMENT HAVE PROVIDED TIMELY INFORMATION AND IMPORTANT FLEXIBILITIES TO SUPPORT SCHOOLS, EDUCATORS, AND FAMILIES DURING THIS PANDEMIC. IMPORTANTLY, WE HAVE IMPLEMENTED THE C.A.R.E.S. ACT IN THE WAY CONGRESS WROTE IT, TO SUPPORT ALL STUDENTS, NO MATTER WHERE THEY GO TO SCHOOL. AND IN THE PROCESS WE HAVE DISBURSED MORE THAN 30 BILLION TAXPAYER DOLLARS. CHILDREN ARE ADVERSELY AFFECTED WHEN THEY STAY HOME. BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT GETTING THE SERVICES THEY WOULD RECEIVE IN A FULL-TIME SCHOOL SETTING. PARENTS ALSO SUFFER. THE COLLECTIVE EARNINGS LOSSES ARE ESTIMATED FOR THE 5.6 MILLION PARENTS WHO ARE UNABLE TO WORK DUE TO SCHOOL CLOSURES TO BE NEARLY $232 BILLION. CONTINUED SCHOOL CLOSURES WILL HAVE ENORMOUS CONSEQUENCES FOR CHILDREN AND COMMUNITIES. WITH THE MOST SEVERE IMPACTS ON THE MOST VULNERABLE STUDENTS. GREAT PERCENTAGE OF THEM ARE STUDENTS OF COLOR, AND STUDENTS FROM LOW INCOME FAMILIES. WE MUST DO BETTER FOR ALL OF OUR CHILDREN. THEY ARE OUR HOPE, OUR PRIDE, AND OUR SHARED FUTURE. WE ARE DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN TO ENSURE THAT LEARNING CONTINUES. HOW THIS HAPPENS IS BEST LEFT TO EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY LEADERS WITH CONSIDERATION OF THE GUIDANCE ISSUED BY CDC TODAY. LOCAL LEADERS SHOULD EXAMINE REAL DATA FOR THEIR OWN STATES AND COMMUNITIES AND WEIGH ALL THE FACTORS, INCLUDING MENTAL HEALTH, PHYSICAL HEALTH, SAFETY, AND SOCIAL EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT. IN THIS PROCESS, TEACHERS ARE ESSENTIAL WORKERS. THEY ARE ESSENTIAL IN SHAPING THE NEXT GENERATION OF YOUNG MINDS. IN INDIVIDUAL SITUATIONS WHERE TEACHERS HAVE UNDERLYING CONDITIONS OR DO NOT FEEL SAFE RETURNING TO THE CLASSROOM, THE SECRETARY HAS SAID THAT THOSE INDIVIDUAL TEACHERS SHOULD WORK WITH THEIR LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO DEVELOP A SOLUTION. WE RECOGNIZE THAT SCHOOL MAY LOOK DIFFERENT THIS FALL. THAT’S FINE. BUT THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW OUR CHILDREN THAT WITH SOME INGENUITY AND CREATIVE THINKING, WE CAN OVERCOME MOST ANY CHALLENGE. OUR SCHOOLS WILL BE STRONGER AND MORE STUDENT FOCUSED THAN EVER BEFORE. THE ADMINISTRATION IS WORKING WITH CONGRESS TO ENSURE THAT SCHOOLS HAVE THE RESOURCES THEY NEED TO REOPEN SAFELY. AND IF SCHOOLS STILL REFUSE TO REOPEN, THE PRESIDENT HAS SAID THAT PARENTS SHOULD RECEIVE THE MONEY THAT WOULD BE USED FOR THEIR CHILD’S EDUCATION TO FIND A SCHOOL THAT IS WILLING TO EDUCATE THEIR CHILD FULL TIME, WHETHER THAT’S A PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL, A PRIVATE SCHOOL, OR A FAITH BASED SCHOOL. AS WE PREPARE TO REOPEN, WE RECOGNIZE THAT EACH INDIVIDUAL STUDENT IS JUST THAT, A UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL. EACH ONE DESERVES PERSONALIZED LEARNING IN WAYS AND PLACES THAT WORK FOR THEM. THE CHALLENGES WE FACE DEMAND ACTION. AND AMERICA ALWAYS WAS AND ALWAYS WILL BE A COUNTRY OF DOERS. WE ARE CONFIDENT THAT WITH GRIT AND DETERMINATION AND A MEASURE OF GRACE, WE CAN AND WILL DO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR ALL THE STUDENTS IN OUR NATION. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I WILL NOW TURN IT OVER TO DR. ERIN SAUBER-SCHATZ.
SAUBER-SCHATZ: Thank you, Dr. Zais. I am happy to speak with all of you today about this critical topic—opening our schools safely in the fall. Let me start by saying opening our schools is not a simple decision. There are both benefits and risks for students, teachers, staff, and communities that must be weighed. As you are aware, COVID-19 is a new disease. Every day, CDC and our public health partners around the world are learning more about SARS-CoV2 – the virus that causes COVID-19. This includes how the virus spreads, how it affects children, and what role children might play in spreading it. The data we currently have about COVID-19 among children suggest that children are less likely to get COVID-19 than adults – and when they do get COVID-19 – they generally have less serious illness. To put this in perspective, as of July 21st 6.6% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States—that’s 192,760 cases—were among those under the age of 18. Turning to the death data, less than 0.1% of all COVID-19-related fatalities in the U.S. have been among children under 18. Although the scientist in me acknowledges this is a small percentage. I am also a mom. In both roles, I am heartbroken that 64 children and adolescents under the age of 18 have died from COVID-19. While every death from COVID-19 is tragic, I cannot imagine losing a child. Of course, it is not just our children we are protecting at school. The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is higher among our teachers, school staff, and administrators. Our resources are developed to support the health and wellbeing of everyone who passes through the school doors. As Dr. Redfield said, decisions about how to reopen schools safely should be made based on local needs and the level of community transmission:
- Each school and each community will have different needs and should implement the strategies that meet those needs.
- We understand the characteristics of each community and school—including who lives, works, and learns there—will differ and that decisions should take into account those who are at increased risk of getting COVID-19 or experiencing severe illness.
That is why, last night and this morning, CDC released new resources and tools to support schools, parents, and communities working to open schools safely in the fall. These resources focus on K-12 schools and include an update on the impact of COVID-19 among children; decision-making tools for parents, guardians and caregivers; symptom screening; face masks in schools; checklists for parents; and an FAQ for administrators. CDC is committed to supporting students, teachers, school administrators, and other staff – as well as parents – as they:
- Prepare for and open schools this fall;
- Respond to cases in their schools and any evolving outbreaks in their communities, and
- To adjust– if needed – so they can continue to operate safely throughout the school year.
To do this, we are
- Seeking and sharing the most current information we have;
- Providing resources and tools based on the latest science; and
- Updating these resources and tools as we learn more about this virus and what we know combats it.
CDC will continue to develop new resources including more for IHEs and update the resources and tools we have to improve how we support communities by:
- Monitoring and evaluating the impact of school openings on the transmission of SARS-CoV2;
- Listening to and learning from the people on the ground who are implementing strategies and coming up with innovative ways to keep schools safe; and
- Collaborating with partners who understand the unique needs and challenges schools face and are working toward the same goal to open schools safely.
Thank you so much. We look forward to taking your questions now.
HAYNES: THANK YOU. TED, WE ARE READY TO OPEN UP FOR QUESTIONS.
OPERATOR: THE LINES ARE NOW OPEN FOR QUESTIONS. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK A QUESTION OVER THE PHONE PLEASE PRESS STAR 1 AND YOUR NAME. PLEASE LIMIT YOURSELF TO ONE FOLLOW UP QUESTION. IF WOULD YOU LIKE TO WITHDRAW PRESS STAR 2. ONE MOMENT FOR THE FIRST QUESTION. FIRST QUESTION IS FROM EVAN BROWN WITH FOX NEWS. YOUR LINE IS NOW OPEN.
FOX NEWS: THANK YOU VERY MUCH. AND GOOD MORNING OR GOOD AFTERNOON. I WAS ABLE TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE GUIDELINES AS THEY WERE RELEASED YESTERDAY. WHAT IS THE ROLE THAT CDC HOPES THESE GUIDELINES WILL ULTIMATELY PLAY? BECAUSE NOT EVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT IS SEEMING SO WILLING TO GO AHEAD AND OPEN SCHOOLS. OBVIOUSLY, FROM DISTRICT TO DISTRICT AND COUNTY TO COUNTY, STATE SO STATE, PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT IDEAS. BUT WHY DO YOU THINK THESE GUIDELINES ARE GOING TO BE THE MOST SAFE? AND WHAT GUIDELINES OR MAYBE YOU CAN TALK ABOUT YOU WHO THE GUIDELINES EVOLVED? AND WERE THERE ANY MORE STRINGENT RULES AT SOME POINT THAT YOU DID AWAY WITH? AND WHAT WERE THE REASONS FOR THAT?
REDFIELD: WELL, I’LL START, EVAN. DR. REDFIELD. WE’VE BEEN WORKING ON GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOLS ACTUALLY I THINK OUR FIRST GUIDANCE WAS POSTED BACK IN FEBRUARY. AND ADDITIONAL IN MARCH OR MAY. WE CONTINUED TO TRY TO UPDATE THESE GUIDANCES BASED ON THE DATA AND INFORMATION THAT WE HAVE. AND, YOU KNOW, RECENTLY WE ISSUED OUR OVERALL GUIDELINES FOR REOPENING SCHOOLS. AND WHAT THIS IS IS A SERIES OF ADDITIONAL RESOURCE DOCUMENTS AND CONSIDERATION DOCUMENTS TO REALLY HELP PUT SOME MORE GRANULAR DETAIL IN HOW ADMINISTRATORS AND PARENTS CAN BEGIN TO THINK ABOUT OPERATING AND PUTTING THOSE GUIDELINES INTO A PRACTICAL PLAN. IT’S IMPORTANT, THOUGH, ALL OF THE MATERIAL THAT WE HAVE PUT OUT ARE GUIDELINES OR RESOURCE MATERIAL OR CONSIDERATION DOCUMENTS. THEY ARE ALL PUT OUT WITH THE INTENT TO HELP FACILITATE, AS WAS MENTIONED EARLIER, THE FULL REOPENING OF SCHOOLS FOR FACE-TO-FACE LEARNING. THEY ARE NOT REALLY PUT OUT THERE TO BE A RATIONALE FOR SOMEHOW TO KEEP SCHOOLS CLOSED. BUT, AGAIN, WE ARE PREPARED TO WORK WITH EACH JURISDICTION AS THEY TRY TO ADOPT THOSE GUIDELINES BASED ON THE LOCAL, PUBLIC HEALTH ADVICE THEY HAVE AND THE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD ADVICE THEY HAVE. SO THAT’S THEIR INTENT. AND THEY REALLY ARE THERE TO HELP INDIVIDUALS BEGIN TO WORK THROUGH THE NUMBER OF ISSUES THAT ARE THERE TO HELP GET INDIVIDUALS BACK TO SCHOOL.
AND AS WE SAID, TO DO THAT SAFELY, WE UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF MAKING THE APPROPRIATE ACCOMMODATIONS FOR TEACHERS THAT HAVE SIGNIFICANT RISK AS WELL AS STUDENTS. I MENTIONED BEFORE ON AIR I HAVE 11 GRANDCHILDREN. ONE OF MY GRANDCHILDREN HAS CYSTIC FIBROSIS, SO WE HAVE TO HAVE EFFECTIVE LEARNING IN SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR ALL STUDENTS AND TEACHERS. BUT THE GOAL LINE IS TO GET MAJORITY OF THESE STUDENTS BACK TO FACE-TO-FACE LEARNING.
HAYNES: NEXT QUESTION, PLEASE.
OPERATOR: YES, NEXT QUESTION IS FROM LAURA MAKLER WITH WASHINGTON POST, YOUR LINE IS NOW OPEN. WAPO: THANKS SO MUCH. YOU MENTIONED A FEW TIMES THAT IN HOT SPOTS, THAT THERE MAY BE, YOU MAY NEED TO KEEP SCHOOLS CLOSED FOR A TIME. MY QUESTION IS HOW MUCH OF THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW WOULD YOU CONSIDER TO BE A HOT SPOT? BECAUSE A LOT OF TIMES WE LOOK AT THIS AND WE SEE A LARGE SWATH OF THE COUNTRY ACROSS THE SOUTHEAST WITH HOT SPOTS. ARE THOSE CONSIDERED HOT SPOTS? AND TALKING ABOUT LARGE PART OF THE COUNTRY TO OPEN RIGHT NOW? AND SAME QUESTION, HOW MUCH DID THE WHITE HOUSE INFLUENCE HAVE IN WRITING THESE NEW DOCUMENTS? THANK YOU.
REDFIELD: SO, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE HOT SPOTS, I THINK MOST OF US RIGHT NOW ARE LOOKING WHERE THE PERCENT POSITIVITY RATE WITHIN THE COMMUNITY IS GREATER THAN 5%. AND A LOT OF TIMES THE MAPS YOU SEE AREN’T GRANULAR AREA TO LET YOU SEE EXACTLY RATHER THAN LIGHT UP A WHOLE STATE, IT MAY BE REALLY SEVERAL COUNTIES THAT MEET THAT CRITERIA. AND IT IS QUITE DYNAMIC. IT IS CHANGING. YOU KNOW, A NUMBER OF COUNTIES NOW ARE SUBSTANTIALLY IMPROVING. THERE ARE SEVERAL COUNTIES GETTING WHERE THERE IS AN INCREASE IN PERCENT POSITIVE. THAT’S WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT FOR THE LOCAL EDUCATION BOARDS AND LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS TO LOOK EXACTLY AT THE DATA IN THEIR ENVIRONMENT AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME. BUT I CAN SAY ACROSS THE NATION, I DON’T HAVE THE EXACT PERCENT FOR YOU BUT WE’LL BE HAPPY TO HAVE OUR PEOPLE LOOK AT IT AND GET BACK TO YOU, BUT THE MAJORITY OF THE NATION RIGHT NOW ACTUALLY HAS POSITIVITY RATES OF LESS THAN 5%. SO CLEARLY THERE ARE MANY PARTS OF OUR NATION THAT ARE HAVING INFECTION RATES THAT WOULD NOT BE INCONSISTENT WITH, AGAIN, OUR GUIDANCE, AND IT’S JUST GUIDANCE, TO CONSIDER IT TO BE MORE CAUTIOUS, PARTICULARLY IN THOSE AREAS THAT HAVE PREVALENCE RATES OF PERCENT POSITIVE MORE THAN 10%.
AND THE DOCUMENTS THAT WE PUT OUT WERE DEVELOPED BY CDC. THE ONE HEADING DOCUMENT THAT’S OVER THE TOP ABOUT THE WHOLE CHILD AND HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS, DOCUMENT PREPARED BY HHS, WHICH WE THOUGHT WAS IMPORTANT TO INCLUDE, WE HAD MEMBERS OF CDC ON THAT TEAM TO PUT THAT TOGETHER ALONG WITH HHS, BECAUSE WE THOUGHT IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS AND DECISION MAKERS TO UNDERSTAND SOME OF THE SIGNIFICANT HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS. I THINK PEOPLE HAVE HEARD ME SAY, AND I MEAN THIS AGAIN AS A GRANDFATHER OF 11, THAT IT’S IN THE BEST PUBLIC HEALTH INTERESTS, THE K THROUGH 12, FOR THEM TO GET BACK IN SCHOOL. THERE WERE MANY NEGATIVE PUBLIC HEALTH CONSEQUENCES THAT HAPPENED TO THE K THROUGH 12 INDIVIDUALS AS A CONSEQUENCE OF SCHOOL CLOSURES. AND, AGAIN, SO WE ARE A STRONG ADVOCATE TO WORK THROUGH WITH THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS HOW THEY CAN TAKE THE GUIDANCE AND THE CONSIDERATION DOCUMENTS AND THE RESOURCE DOCUMENTS THAT WE PREPARED AND HOW CAN THEY OPERATIONALIZE THOSE IN THEIR SCHOOL TO GET THEIR STUDENT BACK TO FACE-TO-FACE LEARNING.
WAPO: SO ARE YOU SAYING THAT THAT ONE DOCUMENT WAS WRITTEN, YOU SAID HHS, BUT ALSO HAD WHITE HOUSE INPUT INTO IT AS WELL?
REDFIELD: NO, I SAID IT WAS AN HHS DOCUMENT. AND IN THAT THERE WAS PEOPLE FROM SAM SA, WHICH IS PART OF HHS, AND PEOPLE FROM CDC THAT WORKED TO HELP PUT THAT DOCUMENT TOGETHER. I WASN’T THE AUTHOR OF THAT. I’D HAVE TO — WE CAN GET WHOEVER WAS THE FINAL AUTHOR OF THAT DOCUMENT TO TELL YOU WHAT OTHER INFLUENCES THERE WERE ANY THAT WENT INTO THAT DOCUMENT.
HAYNES: NEXT QUESTION, PLEASE.
OPERATOR: NEXT QUESTION IS FROM INA BLAD FROM EDUCATION WEEK. YOUR LINE IS NOW OPEN.
EDUCATION WEEK: YEAH, I HAVE TWO QUESTIONS. THE FIRST ONE, DID THE WHITE HOUSE REVIEW OR SUGGEST ANY REVISIONS TO THESE DOCUMENTS BEFORE YOU RELEASED THEM? THE SECOND QUESTION IS, THERE SEEMS TO BE A CHANGE FROM THE SUPPLEMENTAL GUIDANCE YOU RELEASED EARLIER IN THE SPRING ABOUT UNIVERSAL SCREENINGS AT SCHOOLS. AND WE HAVE NOTICED THAT A LOT OF SCHOOLS HAVE THOSE IN THEIR PLANS. CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THAT CHANGE?
REDFIELD: YEAH. FIRST, ALL OF THE MATERIAL, YOU KNOW, I’M A MEMBER OF THE WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE, SO THERE IS A CLEARANCE PROCESS WHERE DOCUMENTS GO UP THROUGH HHS, THROUGH OMB, AND OTHER AGENCIES ARE INVOLVED. FOR EXAMPLE, IN THIS DOCUMENT, CLEARLY EDUCATION IS INVOLVED. CLEARLY LABOR IS INVOLVED. WHETHER THEY HAVE INTERAGENCY REVIEW. AND EACH OF THESE AGENCIES MAKE COMMENTS. AND IT’S AN ITERATIVE PROCESS UNTIL WE GET TO A DOCUMENT THAT IS ULTIMATELY CLEARED BY OMB. AND THE TRUTH IS HAVING WATCHED IT, IT’S A VERY USEFUL PROCESS. SOMETIMES SOME OF THE CONSIDERATIONS THAT MAY NOT BE THOUGHT THROUGH BECAUSE THEY MAY LOOK AT IT FROM SAY THE CDC POINT OF VIEW BUT NOT REALIZING THERE IS ANOTHER ANGLE FROM EDUCATION, ANOTHER FROM LABOR. SO THAT’S JUST THE STANDARD PROCESS. AND I FOUND IT TO BE A VERY USEFUL PROCESS. ULTIMATELY THE DOCUMENT THEN COMES BACK TO MEAL FOR MY FINAL REVIEW AND RELEASE. AND I FORGOT YOUR SECOND QUESTION. I’M SORRY.
EDUCATION WEEK: THE CHANGE IN COMMUNITY SCREENINGS, SYMPTOM SCREENINGS, WHY ARE YOU NOT RECOMMENDING UNIVERSAL ONES? AND A LOT OF SCHOOLS ALREADY HAVE THAT IN THEIR PLANS.
REDFIELD: YEAH, I THINK REALLY WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO DO IS, YOU KNOW, PROVIDE GUIDANCE AND LET THE INDIVIDUAL JURISDICTIONS SEE HOW THE DIFFERENT STRATEGIES THAT WE PUT OUT COULD BE BEST EMPLOYED IN THERE. YOU KNOW, FOR EXAMPLE, YOU KNOW, CLEARLY LOOKING FOR INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE ACTUALLY, FRANKLY, ILL IS OBVIOUSLY SOMETHING THAT WE WE RECOMMEND. AND IF THEY ARE ILL, HAVE THEM GO HOME. IT’S MUCH MORE LIKELY IN THIS AGE GROUP IF THEY PRESENT SYMPTOMS OF ILLNESS IF THEY HAVE SOMETHING OTHER THAN COVID, WITH THAT SAID THEY DON’T NEED TO BRING THAT INTO THE SCHOOL. SO I DO THINK IT’S GOING TO, YOU KNOW, THERE IS NO RECOMMENDATION AGAINST IT, IT’S JUST THAT WE ARE NOT NECESSARILY MANDATING THAT EVERYBODY HAS TO TAKE THIS UNIVERSAL APPROACH. WE’LL SEE HOW THE DIFFERENT SCHOOL DISTRICTS DECIDE TO PUT TOGETHER THE PORTFOLIO STRATEGIES INTO THEIR, AS I MENTIONED, INTO WHAT’S THEIR FINAL PRACTICAL APPROACH. AS I SAID, CDC IS PREPARED TO PROVIDE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND CONSULTATION TO SCHOOLS OR SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO HELP THEM UNDERSTAND IN THEIR SITUATION IN THEIR ENVIRONMENT HOW DO THEY TAKE THE BEST OF WHAT WE RECOMMEND AND GET IT INTO SOMETHING THAT IS OPERATIONALLY PRACTICAL FOR THEM TO BE ABLE TO REOPEN THEIR SCHOOL. HAYNES: WE HAVE TIME FOR TWO MORE QUESTIONS.
OP ERATOR: OKAY. NEXT QUESTION IS FROM HILLARY BOOK WITH BUSINESS INSIDER. YOUR LINE IS NOW OPEN.
BUSINESS INSIDER: OKAY. GREAT. I JUST WANTED TO TALK QUICKLY ABOUT KAISER POLL THAT WAS TAKEN LAST WEEK THAT SHOWED MAJORITY OF PARENTS WOULD PREFER FOR SCHOOLS TO OPEN LATER THIS FALL. AND THAT MAJORITY EVEN HIGHER 76% AMONG PARENTS OF COLOR. SO I’M SURE YOU ARE WELL AWARE CLEARLY FAMILIES ARE WORRIED ABOUT STARTING SCHOOL. SO WHAT ASSURANCE CAN YOU GIVE THESE PARENTS OR WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR THIS MAJORITY OF PARENTS IN THE U.S. RIGHT NOW?
REDFIELD: WELL, I THINK ONE OF THE IMPORTANT THINGS THAT WE ARE TRYING TO DO, I MEAN I UNDERSTAND TREPIDATION AND I UNDERSTAND THE WORRY. I THINK ALL OF US THAT HAVE BEEN PARENTS, AND I HAD SIX CHILDREN, UNFORTUNATELY ONE OF WHICH DIED EARLIER IN MY TIME AS A PARENT, I THINK WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO DO IS GIVE FACTUAL PRACTICAL UNDERSTANDING, PARTICULARLY WHICH SHOULD BE FAIRLY REASSURING, AS WAS MENTIONED BY OUR COLLEAGUE, DR. SAUBER-SCHATZ, IS THAT WHEN WE LOOKED AT MORTALITY, WE HAVE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 RIGHT NOW, SIX MONTHS INTO THIS PANDEMIC, WE ARE LOOKING AT THE MORTALITY FOR THOSE UNDER 18 ABOUT .1 FOR 100,000 AND ONE IN HA MILLION. AND I ALWAYS TRY TO COMPARE THAT TO INFLUENZA WHERE THE MORTALITY OVER THE SAME PERIOD OF TIME IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS HAVE RANGED ANYWHERE FROM FIVE TIMES TO 16 TIMES HIGHER THAN WHAT WE CURRENTLY HAVE FROM COVID. SO I TRY TO REASSURE PEOPLE THIS IS CLEARLY NOT A SERIOUS SIGNIFICANT PATHOGEN IN INDIVIDUALS UNDER 18. THAT SAID, IT CAN BE QUITE SERIOUS IF THERE IS SOMEONE THAT HAS SIGNIFICANT COMORBIDITIES AT HOME, AND THE CHILD HAPPENS TO BE INFECTED, AND SO THESE ARE THINGS TO BALANCE. ONE OF THE REASONS WE PUT OUT THAT RESOURCE DOCUMENT FOR PARENTS AND CARE GIVERS TO HAVE THEM GO THROUGH A THOUGHT PROCESS WHAT THEY WANT TO CONSIDER IN PUTTING THEIR CHILDREN BACK INTO SCHOOL. I DON’T THINK AS MANY PARENTS REALIZE WHAT I’VE TRIED TO SAY, THOUGH, IS THERE REALLY HAVE BEEN SUBSTANTIAL PUBLIC HEALTH NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES FOR CHILDREN NOT BEING IN SCHOOL. AND THE NET THING, IF YOU PUT A SCALE OF PUBLIC HEALTH BENEFIT, YOU ARE GOING TO SEE THAT THE PUBLIC HEALTH BENEFIT IS FAR GREATER BY GETTING THESE SCHOOLS REOPENED AND THE PUBLIC HEALTH BENEFIT. SO IT’S GOING TO BE AN INDIVIDUAL PARENT DECISION. YOU KNOW, I UNDERSTAND AS A PARENT, NOW GRANDPARENT OF 11, THAT WE ALL WORRY. YOU KNOW, WE ARE HOPING THAT PEOPLE WILL SEE THE SUBSTANTIAL BENEFITS TO THEIR CHILDREN. AND PARTICULARLY, YOU KNOW, AGAIN INDIVIDUALS THAT HAVE BEEN SOCIALLY DISADVANTAGED, TO GET THEM BACK IN SCHOOL. GET THEM BACK LEARNING. GET THEM BACK WITH THE ACCESS TO THE SERVICES THAT THEY GET AT SCHOOL, WHICH AREN’T HAPPENING, WHETHER IT’S 7.1 MILLION THEY GET MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES OR THE NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS THAT GET NUTRITIONAL SERVICES OR IMPORTANT SERVICES SCHOOLS OFFER TO SEE EARLY SIGNS OF CHILD ABUSE OR SEXUAL MOLESTATION OR JUST THE IMPORTANCE TO GET INDIVIDUALS INTERACTING MORE SO THEY ARE NOT ISOLATED. I MEAN, WE HAVE SEEN, OBVIOUSLY, INCREASES OF ADOLESCENT SUICIDE, ADOLESCENTS DRUG USE DISORDER. SO I JUST WANT TO REITERATE HOW IMPORTANT FROM A PUBLIC HEALTH POINT OF VIEW. AND I THINK ONCE PARENTS SEE THAT, THEY’LL MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS. AND SOME PARENTS WILL STEP FORWARD INITIALLY. BUT I ANTICIPATE THAT AS THE SCHOOLS BEGIN TO REOPEN, MORE AND MORE PARENTS WILL BEGIN TO OPT FOR THE OPTION TO HAVE FACE-TO-FACE LEARNING.
HAYNES: LAST QUESTION, PLEASE.
OPERATOR: YES, LAST QUESTION IS FROM KEN DOWNY WITH HELIO.COM. YOUR LINE IS NOW OPEN.
HEALIO: THANK YOU. DR. REDFIELD, LAST CDC PRESS RELEASE IT STATED THAT RESOURCES IN SCHOOLS WILL DESCRIBE WHAT TO DO TO GUARD AGAINST SOMEONE WHO MIGHT BE SICK NEW ORLEANS FOR INFECTING OTHERS. CAN YOU SAY WHAT THAT ENTAILS AND HOW YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL SCHOOLS ACTUALLY PROVIDE THIS FOR NOT ONLY KIDS BUT FOR STAFF AS WELL?
REDFIELD: YEAH. I THINK AGAIN IN OUR GUIDANCE IF YOU GO THROUGH THEM, WE REALLY TRIED TO ADDRESS RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING, BECAUSE I DO BELIEVE IT’S IMPORTANT, THAT WE REOPEN THESE SCHOOLS WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT COVID IS STILL HERE. AND GAVE GUIDANCE IN TERMS OF HOW TO BEGIN TO RESPOND TO WHEN A STUDENT, FOR EXAMPLE, DEVELOPS SYMPTOMS OR WHEN A STUDENT IS CONFIRMED TO BE COVID POSITIVE, WHAT IS THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSE WITHIN THAT CLASSROOM, WITHIN THAT SCHOOL, AND BEGIN TO WORK FORWARD. GETTING PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE KNEE JERK ADVANCE IF THERE IS A SINGLE EPISODE IN THE SCHOOL THAT MEANS CLOSING BACK DOWN THE SCHOOL. SO WE HAVE SPECIFIC GUIDANCE IN OUR GUIDELINES AND HOW TO BEGIN TO DO THAT. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE SCHOOLS TO MAKE THAT THROUGH HOW THEY ARE GOING TO HANDLE IT AHEAD OF TIME. BECAUSE WHEN A CASE IS IDENTIFIED IN A SCHOOL, IF THAT’S NOT AHEAD OF TIME THOUGHT THROUGH, IT CAN BE A VERY EMOTIONAL RESPONSE. WE RECENTLY SAW UNIVERSITY IN ONE OF THE STATES THAT REOPENED HAD A SINGLE CASE AT THE UNIVERSITY, AND THEIR RESPONSE WAS TO CLOSE THE UNIVERSITY BACK DOWN. SO I THINK I HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE.
HAYNES: THANK YOU, DR. REDFIELD. THANK YOU ALL. AND THANK YOU ALL FOR JOINING US FOR TODAY’S BRIEFING. PLEASE CHECK CDC WEBSITE, WWW.CDC.GOV/COVID-19 FOR THE LATEST UPDATES FOR RESPONSE EFFORTS. IF YOU HAVE FURTHER QUESTIONS PLEASE CALL THE MEDIA LINE AT 404.639.3286. OR EMAIL MEDIA@CDC.GOV. THANK YOU.
OPERATOR: THIS CONCLUDES TODAY’S CALL. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION. YOU MAY DISCONNECT AT THIS TIME.
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