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CDC releases new guidelines for K-12 schools

According to the federal agency, it makes a big difference whether a teacher, student or staff member is fully vaccinated.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is out with updated guidelines for masking and distancing in K-thru-12 schools. But as Angelique Arintok finds out, there's not a whole lot of clarity on the local level just yet.

"We've done a reevaluation of the science," said CDC Division of Injury Prevention Team Lead Erin Sauber-Schatz. 

The CDC recommends that students, staff and fully vaccinated teachers can ditch the mask and distance indoors, except on school buses.

Those who aren't vaccinated or can't be yet, like students younger than 12 years old, should keep at least three feet of distance and keep the mask on.

But in any scenario, the CDC highlights health screenings, handwashing and contract tracing as important prevention strategies.

Credit: 13News Now

"It will really be up to the schools in the districts, in the states to determine if they're able to put different rules in place in the classroom for those who are fully vaccinated compared to those who are not yet vaccinated," said Sauber-Schatz.

In Virginia Beach, the city school system sent out an email Friday afternoon to families. It stated, in part, "the division's leadership will be reviewing this new information in consultation with state and local health officials as well as the Virginia Department of Education."

A 13News Now poll on Facebook asking whether to lift mask mandates in schools generated hundreds of comments. One parent said "no more masks. I won't send mine if masks required." Another wrote, "only if fully vaccinated." And some, like Rita Lawson of Virginia Beach, said masks on across the board.

"They go home, like I said, to parents, grandparents, other people. They're amongst 20 to 30 and more kids a day," said Lawson. 

Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) said they'll update families once any of their COVID-19 rules change. Meanwhile, it's a big waiting game.

"I'm trying to get folks to be patient, so that we can get that information as we make plans to come back safely. Either way, we are back five days a week for instruction. We're very excited about that," VBCPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence. 

Meanwhile, VBCPS will follow the state health commissioner's order. It requires masks for anyone five and older inside school buildings. That order is set to expire July 25.

Credit: Angelique Arintok, 13News Now

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