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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines Thursday that majorly ease the previous social distancing restrictions of the past ahead of school re-openings.
The new guidelines dropped requirements to stay at least six feet away from other people, as most Americans have at least some kind of immunity to the coronavirus through infection or vaccination or both.
“This latest guidance from the CDC should give our students, parents, and educators the confidence they need to head back to school this year with a sense of joy and optimism,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement on Thursday.
“While COVID continues to evolve, so has our understanding of the science and what it takes to return to school safely,” he continued. “Thanks to vaccines, boosters, new treatments, and commonsense safety precautions – as well as funding from the American Rescue Plan – our schools have more resources than ever before to provide the healthy learning environments our students need to grow and thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.”
Contact tracing and regular testing should be limited to high risk places like hospitals and nursing homes, and Americans exposed to COVID do not need to quarantine at home anymore, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated, the CDC said, noting that they should wear a mask for 10 days and get tested for the virus after five days.
If anyone does test positive for COVID, they should isolate at home for at least five days, the guidance said.
“We know that Covid-19 is here to stay,” CDC epidemiologist Greta Massetti said at a Thursday news briefing, according to the Times. “High levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection, and the many tools that we have available to protect people from severe illness and death, have put us in a different place.”