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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Hunter Biden Indicted on Federal Gun Charges Amidst Special Counsel Investigation
In a significant development, Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, was indicted on Thursday on federal gun charges as part of Special Counsel David Weiss’ ongoing investigation. The indictment alleges that Hunter Biden made false statements during the purchase of a firearm, among other charges.
The charges against Hunter Biden include:
• Making a false statement in the purchase of a firearm
• Making a false statement related to information required to be kept by a federal firearms licensed dealer
•Possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance
According to the indictment, the alleged incident occurred on or about October 12, 2018, in the District of Delaware. Hunter Biden is accused of knowingly making a false and fictitious written statement during the acquisition of a Colt Cobra 38SPL Revolver. According to reports from Fox News, the statement, submitted on Form 4473, falsely certified that he was not an unlawful user of, and addicted to, any stimulant, narcotic drug, or controlled substance.
Furthermore, the indictment further states that between October 12, 2018, and October 23, 2018, in the District of Delaware, Hunter Biden knowingly possessed the same firearm despite being an unlawful user of and addicted to controlled substances. This marks the first set of charges brought by Special Counsel David Weiss against Hunter Biden since being granted special counsel status.
The investigation came to public attention when it was reported by Fox News in 2021 that police had responded to an incident in 2018 involving a gun owned by Hunter Biden.
Reports state that, Hallie Biden, the widow of President Biden’s late son, Beau, who was in a relationship with Hunter at the time, discarded the gun. Hunter’s gun was thrown away in a dumpster near a market, located close to a school. It was subsequently revealed that Hunter Biden had purchased a gun earlier that same month.
Hunter Biden’s legal troubles do not end with the gun charges. Earlier in July, an original plea agreement collapsed, which would have seen him plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax counts for willful failure to pay federal income tax, thus avoiding jail time on a felony gun charge. Instead, he pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and one felony gun charge.
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed David Weiss as special counsel to oversee the Hunter Biden investigation and related matters. The White House has declined to comment on these developments, which continue to draw significant public and media attention.
Follow Alexander Carter on Twitter @AlexCarterDC for more!
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