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New CDC Guidelines for School Reopening Have Parents, Teachers Concerned

Recommendations on the CDC website outline practices like one child per row on school buses, “one-way routes” in hallways, avoidance of shared toys, books, and digital equipment, and limited use of playgrounds…among other things. What do you think?

As some communities across the country prepare to reopen schools, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention has issued ‘guidelines’ for consideration.

Ultimately, K-12 schools can determine, in collaboration with state and local health officials, for themselves to the extent possible that the recommendations can be implemented. But even the guidelines have some teachers and parents concerned.

The CDC says “the more people a student or staff member interacts with, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.” With that in mind, and in hopes of continuing to slow the spread, the CDC has outlined the following:

  • Lowest Risk: Students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events.
  • More Risk: Small, in-person classes, activities, and events. Groups of students stay together and with the same teacher throughout/across school days and groups do not mix. Students remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (e.g., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures, or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes).
  • Highest Risk: Full sized, in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities.

Additionally, the CDC issued these guidelines:
[You can see all guidelines and details on the CDC website]

  • The use of face masks for anyone over the age of 2
    • Face coverings should be worn by staff and students (particularly older students) as feasible, and are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult.
  • Limit sharing of gym/P.E. equipment
  • Limit sharing of art supplies, toys, and games
  • Avoid sharing electronic devices, toys, books, and other games or learning aids.
  • Space seating/desks at least 6 feet apart when feasible.
  • Turn desks to face in the same direction.
  • Stagger arrival and departure times.
  • Seat 1 child per row on school buses and skip rows when possible
  • Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors or sidewalks and signs on walls, to ensure that staff and children remain at least 6 feet apart in lines and at other times
  • Create “one way routes” in hallways
  • Close communal use shared spaces such as dining halls and playgrounds with shared playground equipment if possible; otherwise, stagger use and clean and disinfect between use.
  • Have children bring their own meals as feasible, or serve individually plated meals in classrooms instead of in a communal dining hall or cafeteria
  • Ensure that student and staff groupings are as static as possible by having the same group of children stay with the same staff.
  • Add physical barriers, such as plastic flexible screens, between bathroom sinks especially when they cannot be at least 6 feet apart.
  • Limit any nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (e.g., playground equipment, door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains) within the school and on school buses at least daily or between use as much as possible.
  • Teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and increase monitoring to ensure adherence among students and staff.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol can be used (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer).
  • Educate staff and families about when they/their child(ren) should stay home and when they can return to school.
  • Staff and students should stay home if they have tested positive for or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Staff and students who have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 should also stay home and monitor their health.

Last week, Governor Brian Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced the creation of six K-12 Restart Working Groups to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Georgia’s K-12 schools and plan for a safe 2020-21 school year.


School Meals

  • ​Dr. Linette Dodson, GaDOE School Nutrition Director (Chair)
  • Paige Holland, GaDOE School Nutrition Program Manager
  • Alyssia Wright, Executive Director – Food & Nutrition Operations, Fulton County Schools
  • Courtney Hart, Director of School Nutrition, Hart County Schools
  • Kim Kiker, Director of School Nutrition, Calhoun City Schools
  • Keshia Williams, Director of School Nutrition, Coweta County Schools
  • Tessany Lockhart, Georgia School Nutrition Association
  • Kathy Kuzava, Georgia Food Industry Association
  • Misty Friedman, Georgia Department of Agriculture
  • Kyle Waide, Atlanta Community Food Bank

Distance Learning/Professional Learning

  • ​Dr. Caitlin Dooley, GaDOE Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning (Chair)
  • Dr. Keith Osburn, GaDOE Associate Superintendent for Georgia Virtual Learning
  • Dr. Zelphine Smith-Dixon, GaDOE Director of Special Education Services and Supports
  • Mike Duncan, Superintendent, Pike County Schools
  • Dr. Karen Barker, Professional Learning Facilitator, Coweta County Schools
  • Melanie Harwell, Instructional Technology Coordinator, Calhoun City Schools
  • Dr. April Aldridge, Assistant Superintendent for K-5 Curriculum, Decatur County Schools
  • Nic Carroll, Director of Digital Learning, Columbia County Schools
  • Tracey Pendley, 2020 & 2021 Georgia Teacher of the Year, Atlanta Public Schools
  • Allison Townsend, 2019 Georgia Teacher of the Year, Fulton County Schools
  • Casey Bethel, 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year, Douglas County Schools
  • Karen Hallacy, President of Georgia PTA
  • Laura Evans, Director of Education, Georgia Public Broadcasting
  • Buddy Costley, Executive Director, Georgia Association of Educational Leaders
  • Deborah White, Executive Director, Georgia Association of Curriculum & Instructional Supervisors

 Connectivity and Devices

  • ​Jannine Miller, Office of the Governor (Chair)
  • Chris Shealy, GaDOE Director of Technology Services
  • Michele Taylor, Superintendent, Calhoun City Schools
  • Tim Cochran, Superintendent, Decatur County Schools
  • Dr. Jason Branch, Superintendent, Oconee County Schools
  • Jim Farmer, Chief Technology Officer, Fayette County Schools
  • Diane Jacobi, Georgia PTA
  • Joy Hawkins, Executive Director, Governor’s Office of Student Achievements
  • Representative of the Georgia Telecommunications Association
  • Representative of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs

Mental Health and Wellness

  • Ashley Harris, GaDOE Director of Whole Child Supports & Strategic Partnerships (Chair)
  • Cheryl Benefield, GaDOE Program Manager for Safe & Supportive Schools
  • Beverly Stewart, Director of Student Support Services, Bibb County Schools
  • Dallas LeDuff, Director of Student Services, Oconee County Schools
  • Dr. Kenya Gilmore, Director of Project Aware, Muscogee County Schools
  • Chelsea Montgomery, Executive Director of Counseling, Psychological & Social Work Services, Fulton County Schools
  • Dr. Deborah Williams, Assistant Superintendent, Columbia County Schools
  • Evan Horton, Incoming Superintendent, Coweta County Schools
  • Dawn Stastny, President Elect of Georgia PTA
  • Erica Fener Sitkoff, Executive Director, Voices for Georgia’s Children
  • Dante McKay, Director of the Office of Children, Young Adults, & Families, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
  • Teresa Hearn, Regional Wraparound Coordinator, Pioneer RESA
  • Leslie Myles, Communities in Schools of Georgia

​Supplemental Learning

  • ​Shaun Owen, GaDOE Deputy Superintendent of Federal Programs (Chair)
  • Deidre Smith, GaDOE Program Manager for 21st Century Community Learning Centers
  • Lori Rodgers, Assistant Superintendent of District Effectiveness and Federal Programs, Bibb County Schools
  • Amy Barger, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning, Fulton County Schools​
  • Katrina Cook, Director of Special Education, Hart County Schools
  • Michele Sherman, Assistant Superintendent, Columbia County Schools
  • Ernie Lee, 2016 Georgia Teacher of the Year, Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools
  • Lauren Holcomb, Executive Director, State Charter Schools Commission
  • Katie Landes, Director, Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network
  • Emily Carter, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta
  • Dr. Randell Trammell, President & CEO, YMCA of Georgia
  • Dr. Kenneth Zeff, Executive Director, Learn4Life

Facilities, Transportation, and Equipment

  • Dr. Garry McGiboney, GaDOE Deputy Superintendent for School Safety & Climate (Chair)
  • Pat Schofill, GaDOE Director of Facilities Services and Pupil Transportation
  • Paul Hildreth, Emergency Operations, Fulton County Schools
  • Dr. Jody Barrow, Superintendent, Fayette County Schools
  • Sam Kitchens, Executive Director of Capital Programs, Bibb County Schools
  • James Odom, Director of Plant Services, Muscogee County Schools
  • Chris Latimer, Comptroller, Coweta County Schools
  • David Seagraves, Director of Operations, Hart County Schools
  • Cliff Sanders, Director of Facilities Maintenance and Operations, Columbia County Schools
  • Sara Kroening, Chief Nursing Officer, Georgia Department of Public Health
  • Bert Brantley, Georgia Department of Economic Development
  • Harlan Proveaux, Deputy Director, Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS)​​

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for

1 Comment

1 Comment


    May 25, 2020 at 9:12 am


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