The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday called for grade schools and secondary schools across the country to reopen safely and as soon as possible for in-person instruction in a lengthy set of new guidelines.
The new recommendations come as the nation debates students back to schools for in-person learning, as virtual learning has had broadly negative impacts on students’ mental health and academic performance, as well as making life difficult for parents who have had to adjust to having their children at home and a whole new work life.
“It is critical for schools to open as safely and as soon as possible, and remain open, to achieve the benefits of in-person learning and key support services,” the CDC stated in the new guidelines. “All community members, students, families, teachers, and school staff should take actions to protect themselves and others where they live, work, learn, and play.”
In the guidelines, the CDC laid out “five key mitigation strategies” to help reopen K-12 schools safely. Those five key strategies are: everybody wearing masks and wearing them correctly; social distancing; washing hands; cleaning facilities and bolstering ventilation; and practicing contact tracing and quarantining.
While policies such as mask-wearing and social distancing have been recommended by the CDC before in previous guidelines, this time the CDC is more assertively calling on schools to practice them.
The CDC emphasized that such schools should be reopened before nonessential businesses and activities are and that they should be the last to shut down when state and local governments enact COVID-19 restrictions.
“I want to be clear, with this operational strategy, CDC is not mandating that schools reopen. These recommendations simply provide schools a long-needed roadmap for how to do so safely under different levels of disease in the community,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a Friday press briefing.
“We also know that some schools are already providing in-person instruction and we want them to be able to continue to do this, but we know that some are not following the recommended mitigation strategies we know to work,” Walensky added. “For these schools, we are not mandating that they close; rather, we are providing these recommendations and highlighting the science behind them to help schools create an environment that is safe for schools, students, teachers and staff.”
While the Biden administration has been calling for K-12 schools to reopen soon and safely, specifically most of them within his first 100 days, teachers unions across the country have been pushing back against reopening until more protections are put in place and testing and vaccinations for teachers become more available.
Last week, though, Walensky said during a White House press briefing that vaccinating is “not a prerequisite” for safely reopening schools.
“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” she told reporters.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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REPORT: China has vast network of covert police stations around the world
China has a vast network of covert police stations abroad, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. These police stations serve consular functions, but are also used by China to crack down on what the CCP deems “illegal” activity of Chinese nationals abroad. The police stations include at least 38 run by the Fuzhou City police, and 22 run by the Qingtian City police. Cities housing these police stations include New York, Toronto (which has three stations), London (two), Paris (three), Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro, and Tokyo.
Key findings of the report are below.
“Persuaded to return”
According to China, China has “persuaded to return [to China]” 230,000 Chinese nationals living aboard from April 2021 to July 2022 alone to face charges of fraud and telecommunications fraud. A Yangxia police station set up in Mozambique, for example, persuaded a Chinese national to return to China after being accused of stealing money from his employer. Chinese authorities also put pressure on the accused family to convince the accused to surrender.
Roughly 54,000 Chinese nationals were persuaded to return from northern Myanmar alone, in the first nine months of 2021. In July 2022, the government of Wenchang City warned that its citizens living in northern Myanmar must check in with their local police stations or face multiple penalties including blocking their children from attending urban schools back in China. Similarly, in February 2022, the government of Liayang City stated that Chinese “illegally staying” in northern Myanmar must return or the bank accounts of their immediate family members could be frozen.
The Nine Forbidden Countries
China has claimed that nine countries contain serious levels of fraud and telecom fraud perpetrated by Chinese nationals. Since November 2021, China has declared that Chinese citizens living in these nine countries must return to China immediately unless they have an “emergency reason” or a “strict necessity” to travel or stay in those countries. Those countries are: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the UAE, and Turkey. However, the report questions whether these countries are truly awash in such fraud, as most of China’s oversees police stations are in the West, and only one of the nine countries (Cambodia) has such a police station. Chinese staying in the nine forbidden countries, as well as threats to family members as stated above, creates a “guilt-by-association” atmosphere intended to repatriate the Chinese nationals.
According to the report, Chinese police stations abroad serve to bypass “bilateral extradition treaties or other mechanisms of judicial cooperation” to cooperate with CCP-linked NGOs which effectively “[sets] up an alternative policing and judicial system within third countries.” Instead of using international judicial cooperation, which establishes due process, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial, China uses the above “persuade-to-return” methods and transnational police stations to circumvent international law and coerce Chinese nationals to return to China for trials. These policies show the power of China’s long-arm oppression over its own subjects.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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