Only 4% Of U.S. Kids Live In Counties Where Schools Should Be Fully Open

by Madison Vanderberg
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A New York Times analysis of the CDC’s guidelines for reopening elementary schools posits that very few U.S. counties even meet the CDC’s thresholds for in-person learning

In the last few weeks, the CDC, along with many states that previously barred in-person classroom learning, have been making a concerted effort to get kids back in classrooms, however, by the CDC’s own guidelines, only 4% of our nation’s kids live in areas that actually meet their thresholds to safely reopen schools, leaving everyone to utter a big “huh?”

Despite Biden’s push to reopen schools and the CDC’s own recommendations that seemingly encourage school reopenings, The New York Times reports that, according to the CDC’s own guidelines on what COVID-19 metrics a county needs to hit before they can be safely encouraged to fully reopen classrooms, “only 4 percent of the nation’s schoolchildren live in counties where coronavirus transmission is low enough for full-time in-person learning without additional restrictions.” The CDC is essentially like, Okay basically nowhere in the U.S. meets our guidelines to reopen classrooms, but here are the guidelines anyway, so good luck?!

According to this map, only the green areas meet the CDC’s thresholds for weekly coronavirus cases and test-positivity rates to safely reopen in-classroom learning. All the yellow areas (i.e. basically everywhere) would only meet the threshold for hybrid learning.

Full in-person learning is only recommended by the CDC in areas that report fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 people in a week and a seven-day positivity rate of less than 8 percent. According to the Times‘ analysis, “only about one-sixth of America’s counties qualified as of late last week — mostly in more sparsely populated areas.” And this criteria is just for elementary schools. Based on the CDC’s guidance, the majority of middle and high schools across the country only meet the criteria to remain at remote learning (in red in this map below).

Many schools are, and have been, ignoring the guidance completely — like Florida — which has basically had schools open throughout the pandemic. However, if Florida wanted to follow the CDC’s guidelines, the CDC would say that only three Florida counties meets the requirements to offer 100% in-person learning.

New York Times

Weirdly, Jasmine Reed, a CDC. spokeswoman, told The New York Times that these are only “recommendations” and they don’t want the strict guidelines to be the reason some states are keeping schools closed, which leads many to wonder… what are the guidelines for then?

Though, considering how deeply allergic Americans are to the government “telling them what to do,” (**eye-roll**) it makes perfect sense that the CDC would release sensible and science-based guidelines and then tell Americans “but honestly just do whatever you want because we know you’re going to anyway.”